Monday, August 3, 2015

Questions You Should Not Ask During An Informational Interview And Those You Should Ask

As a job-searching individual, you may be eyeing a particular company and if you are lucky to get acquainted with an important official in the HR department of the company, you may request for an informational interview with her. You should be very careful during this interview because if you handle this in the right manner, this may be a major breakthrough that may fulfill your desire of working for the company. This means you should ask the right questions and refrain from asking the wrong ones. Let us have a look.

According to Tara Goodfellow, a former instructor of career development, she, on more than one occasion, had to force herself from giving advice that was not solicited or sought. This leads us further into the way such informational interviews should be handled, what questions should be asked and what should be shunned.

Questions not to ask

1. May I know the career path you traveled?

According to experts, no question can be worse than this. In fact, you can find everything online and so, you are wasting not only your time but that of the official as well. 

You should instead ask nuanced questions and let the official know that you have done adequate research about the company. This will in turn convey that you are professional in your approach and are also interested in the company. 

You can also try wording the question differently to show that you are seeking advice for growing in the company. Such questions may inspire the official to help you with her suggestions. In general, people like helping and so, you must go to such informational interviews after doing a good research. A carefully and well-done research may help you converse much beyond the normal or the surface level.

2. What is the controversy or the scoop surrounding the company?

If you ask such probing questions as if you are an investigative journalist, you will be putting an abrupt end to the conversation instead of building a rapport with the official. It sets an awkward dynamic, say experts.

Instead, embrace an open-ended approach by asking questions like the challenges the company may be encountering in their field. Such open-ended questions will give a lot of scope for the other person to interpret them in their own way. When the official starts talking about such challenges, you may certainly have an opportunity to let her know that some of your skills will be useful for the company in overcoming those challenges. In short, the focus will be more on bringing to the table what you can offer to them.

3. How much remuneration do you get?

There is nothing wrong in being curious but you must not ask such blunt and point-blank questions. They are not only inappropriate but may be off-putting as well. In fact, the other person may think that you are invading her privacy. You can word the question differently and ask a general question that can get you the details of the going rates in their industry. You can also ask the general salary range of the company and impress upon the person that this detail may be useful as a benchmark for applying for such jobs.

4. Can we be Facebook friends?

If you are able to develop a fast rapport, nothing like that. But it doesn't in any way justify asking if you and the other person can be Facebook friends. The official may have developed a liking for you but she may not be ready to connect with you on a personal level. Further, she might have been a part of many such informational interviews and she cannot be a Facebook friend for everyone.

Of course, you can express your interest for staying in touch with the person by showing a genuine interest in her. Questions like how she became attracted to the company when she was searching for a job may inspire her to share her story more naturally. Never forget to send a "thank you" note within two days after the informational interview is over.

Questions you should ask

1. What is the culture of the company and which personality type may suit that culture?

Every office has its own culture and not everyone may be able to adapt to the culture of every company. Only if your personality suits the company culture, you can be successful there. So, don't stop with asking this question. Listen attentively and try to understand what the official says. This question may also help in creating a positive impression that you are exploring the ways to succeed in the ambiance of the company and also demonstrating your macro-level perspective about the factors or variables that may impact your growth and success in the company.

2. How is a typical day in the company?

Such informational interviews are informal and hence, the official may be freely expressing her honest thoughts. She may even tell the things that are not going well.

Since she will be freely sharing her thoughts, you will be able to envision yourself in the role you intend to play within the limitations of the ups and downs of a typical day in the company. This may help you in determining if if you can play on your strong points if you join the roll of the company.

3. Should I reach out to someone else?

If your desire to join the company has grown stronger after the informational interview, you should ask the official if you should reach out to someone else. By asking this question, you are accelerating the momentum of the process. The official may suggest some known people in the same company. If there are no vacant positions in the company, she may even suggest the names of people of some other company in the same field.

4. Will I be of any help to you?

This question will end the interview on a pleasant note because it will show to the official that you are willing to give back. You should be sincere while asking this question. This may blossom into a relationship that may be mutually beneficial. If you do not ask this question, you may not be able to send another contact to the official in the event of you determining that you are not the right fit for the position.

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