4 Steps for Researching the Informational Interview

This series is dedicated to explaining the parts of an informational interview, an important step in dominating the job hunt

I know, I know. I can hear the sighs all the way over here. “More homework?” you’re thinking.

The good news is, all of the research you are doing here is information you should know anyhow. This will help you in finding internships, applying for a job, and navigating your career in general.

First, take a moment and figure out what you know and don’t know.

FindSpark Researching Companies

Photo courtesy of VFS Digital Design

Do you know what niche of the industry you want to work in? Public relations for the medical industry can be vastly different from public relations for an alcoholic beverage company.

Do you know what you end goal is? If it’s the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, the people you will seek out to interview are different than if you want to be an entrepreneur of a small company.

Do you know anyone in the industry already? Can you reach out to them to set up an interview? If so, that’s great; you can do what’s known as warm outreach, since you’re already familiar with the person. You can probably skip the rest of this step and move onto the next.

For the rest of you, you have to do some cold outreach. And like cold calling, it takes some work.

Research local.

Because of the many benefits of the internet, an interview over Skype is possible, but starting local is best. Being able to have the face-to-face time in a location you are familiar with will help calm your nerves. And just as employers are more likely to source local, a person is more likely to take the time out of their day for a local interview versus one that relies on a solid WiFi connection.

Find 3-5 companies in your industry.

Remember what I said about knowing your niche? If you know exactly what sector you want to be in, this will help narrow your scope of research. If your interests are varied, you will have more prospects to look into.

Research the company.

FindSpark Researching Social Media

Are they on social media? Pull up all of their accounts and analyze the image they’re projecting. Is it sophisticated and aiming towards an affluent audience or easy-going and geared towards college students? Take notice of how they communicate.

Then, take it one step further.

If the company lists individual people, research them. In the PR company example, you may find the Social Media Director on Twitter or the LinkedIn profile of an Account Executive. Look for articles they’ve published, campaigns they’ve worked on, or see if you share an alma mater.

If you find anything interesting, write it down. You can use it later when you write your email. If you find a social media account, you can follow them. If you go this route, you may want to wait a little bit before taking the next step. Take the time to interact with the person on social media, whether it be retweeting their tweets or commenting on their Instagram pictures. Give the person time to become familiar with you. It will make the next step that much easier.

Analyze the info.

Pull all the information you’ve collected together and see if the companies match your needs. This would be the time to discard any companies that don’t seem as compatible as they did in the beginning, now that you know more about the culture and work. For the ones that make the cut, figure out what information you are going to lead with in the email and what tone you are going to use.

Oh, and did I mention, find their contact information? It’s basic, but that’s important, too. Check on LinkedIn to see if their email is listed, or use a tool like Rapportive to guess their email address.

Once you have completed all these steps, you are ready to write the email.

Do you have any tips for finding out more about a company? Share in the comments below.


Want to learn how to reach out to industries pros you admire, without coming off like a creep? Join us for our FREE virtual workshop “The Art of the Informational Interview” on Tuesday, April 11th from 8:00pm-9:00pm. Learn more and register here: findspark.com/art-of-informational-interviews

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