Whether you are a student, recent graduate, HCC intern (welcome!) or professional, informational interviews are a powerful way to advance your career and strengthen your network. Informational interviews enable you obtain “information” about what people do, how they got there, their likes and dislikes, future outlook and the skills and credentials required for success. I always get at least one valuable “nugget” of personal or career insight from each interview that takes me one step closer to knowing what I want and how to get there. If you establish a good connection with the person you interview and maintain appropriate communication, they can become part of your network. You might just find a new mentor! Some informational interviews can even turn into job interviews or enable you to learn about a great not yet posted job that is the perfect fit for you.
Informational interviews are also powerful ways to learn about and build relationships in the organization where you work or with its partners. Whether you are an intern, new hire or experienced employee, informational interviews enable you to learn more about how the organization works, what departments and individuals do and how things fit together. You can learn valuable insights about people’s priorities, ideas and preferences that can inform your work and strengthen your connections. You can identify key issues that need to be addressed and common ground for solutions. Interns in particular should do as many informational interviews as possible within and outside their organization. Valuable learning, projects, visibility and relationships will result!
How do you go about setting up informational interviews?
How to prepare for and ensure a successful interview?
If you make a good connection, always ask the person you interview for 2-3 other people they would suggest you speak with based on your background and interests. Ask for their contact information and if you can use the person’s name or be introduced.
In addition to pursing people that interest you, try some interviews with people or departments that you don’t know about. If you are open, you might just find something you never knew existed that is of great interest to you or meet someone who can be a mentor or has insights or contacts that can benefit you.
I know you are busy but I encourage you to do as many informational interviews as you can. Build time into your schedule and make them a priority. Like my students, you might roll your eyes at me when I suggest you do one informational interview per week or at least one per month. Consider the amount of insights you would gain and the number of new people in your network. My advice was validated recently when my UC Berkeley graduate students asked a very successful health executive how he discovered what he wanted to do and got his job and he responded, “I did 50 informational interviews.” For those of you in internships, you should do multiple per week, along with getting your project work done, to maximize your learning, effectiveness and relationships.
Some of you may be uncomfortable with initiating or conducting informational interviews ( I know I was when I started out). Just remember as one of my mentors says, “when you are uncomfortable it is a sign that you are about to grow” I am confident you will discover many benefits from informational interviewing, including progressing toward your authentic health career. Time to get started!