If the only interviews you’ve done have been for nursing jobs you’re applying for, it’s time to consider informational interviews as the next tool to activate in your career.
What is an informational interview?
This form of interview is a powerful tool for doing career-related research and development, creating new connections and practicing your communication skills in a low-stakes setting.
When you request an interview, you may be seeking information about a particular workplace, trying to gain clarity about a certain area of nursing or building your professional network.
Sometimes, an informational interview is a method for meeting a person of influence who may see you as a viable candidate for an actual position, even though you’re not officially applying. An informational interview can sometimes be a side door entrance to employment.
Asking for an interview
If you’ve identified an individual for an interview, the next step is to reach out with your request.
Sending a letter via mail is the classiest (and least expected) way to make your request. The fact that you went to the trouble to send a letter may win some people over quickly, especially those of older generations. Failing that, an email may suffice, but you risk the message being missed or disregarded.
When asking, be clear about your intentions, what you’re seeking, and how much time you’re requesting. State that you value their time and offer a reasonable limit for the conversation (perhaps 20 minutes). You can offer to meet at the individual’s office or a nearby café. If you go to their office, offer to bring their favorite drink and pastry. If you meet at a café, insist on paying the tab.
Consider going the extra mile, sending your questions in advance so your interviewee knows exactly what to expect.
The interview process
Dress professionally and bring your resume in a nice folder, as well as a copy of your personal business card. Take only a few minutes for pleasantries and then get down to business, reiterating that you value their time and will be concise.
Be prepared with questions, take notes and listen well. If your interviewee asks if there is anything specific they can do, be prepared with a response. Is there someone of influence you’d like to meet? Is there another piece of information or advice you need? Be sure to ask if there is anything you can do in return.
Finally, send a hand-written thank you note and feel free to follow up over time, especially if your interview subject is interested in further contact. If it feels right, put them on your holiday card list.
The power of informational interviews
These interviews can be a powerful tool for networking, career development and professional research. Use this tool wisely, follow up and always express your appreciation. Informational interviews can open doors in your mind, as well as doors to gainful employment and important connections.