The Informational Interview: How to Leverage a Valuable Career Networking Tool

November 1, 2010 in Career and Job Search Tips


Right now you may be asking yourself, “Why would I need to go on an informational interview?”

As an experienced food & beverage industry professional, you may think that an informational interview would be a waste of your time.  Because typically, informational interviews are associated with job seekers who are new to the employment market, or have no clear direction for their careers.

But conducted properly, even a seasoned professional can benefit from an informational interview:

  • Expand your professional network
  • Set yourself apart from the crowd in a competitive job market
  • Gain valuable insider feedback on potential future job openings
  • Sharpen interview skills that may have become a bit “rusty” from disuse
  • Practice selling yourself and your personal brand

In short, this type of interview can provide you with invaluable visibility, information and practice – all in a low-stress setting.

Tips for Successful Informational Interviews

  • Do your homework. It goes without saying that you’ll get out of the informational interview process what you put into it.  So read industry journals and annual reports, and study operating principals, product and financial information for any company in which you’re interested – before making phone calls.
  • Use your networks. Leveraging these contacts will distinguish you from entry-level job candidates, get you in front of key decision makers more quickly and make potential employers take you seriously.
  • Find out how your skills will translate. If you already know how your experience will benefit a potential employer, now is the time to say so.  But if you’re unsure where you might fit into a different sector of the food and beverage industry, the informational interview provides a perfect opportunity to find out.
  • Be honest. Since you’re not interviewing for an available opening, be candid about your professional strengths and weaknesses, as well as career goals.  If your skills, desires and priorities are not a match for a particular organization, it’s always better to find out up front.  In this case, the interviewee may be able to connect you with potential employers that are more in-sync with your needs.
  • Ask about next steps. If you’re intrigued by the prospects with a potential employer, take the initiative and find out the next step in being considered for an available or upcoming position.  And if the connection is not there, ask if the interviewee knows anyone else with whom you should speak.  But be sure to do so tactfully, so that you leave behind a positive and professional impression.

A Final Thought
Informational interviews can happen anywhere and anytime – not just in the board room.  So keep an open mind and seize potential opportunities whenever they present themselves, because you never know who might be helpful in your career search.

Jump Start Your Career Search with The Kinsa Group

If you’re in the market for a new job, or are just curious about what kind of professional food and beverage jobs are available right now, please call us today.  As national recruiters specializing in the food & beverage industry, Kinsa Group offers a variety of excellent career opportunities.