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Informational Interviews

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Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2008, 21:42
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So I've never done an informational interview with any company. Generally speaking, what are the types of things one asks during these? Is it more "describe a typical day" or more "what sort of growth opportunities does this firm offer"? Anything you wouldn't ask?

thanks :)
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 25 Dec 2008, 22:08
Another question on a similar note:

When is it acceptable to start holding informational interviews and reaching out to alumni? Is it acceptable to do this the Spring or Summer prior to matriculation?
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2008, 19:34
agold wrote:
Another question on a similar note:

When is it acceptable to start holding informational interviews and reaching out to alumni? Is it acceptable to do this the Spring or Summer prior to matriculation?


I'm confused. By informational interview, I assume ac is talking about the "early" interviews when companies come to campus and just "sell" themselves to the students. They aren't actually interviewing for positions, just answering questions and taking notes on who might be a good match for the company.

How could you do something like that in spring or summer prior to matriculation?

RF
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2008, 19:40
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ac8706 wrote:
So I've never done an informational interview with any company. Generally speaking, what are the types of things one asks during these? Is it more "describe a typical day" or more "what sort of growth opportunities does this firm offer"? Anything you wouldn't ask?

thanks :)


I'm sure someone will be along to correct me, but I assume that these are a lot like career fairs or industry conferences.

You mingle with company reps, talk about your background and interests and what kind of opportunities you are looking for. The company reps are there to tell you about the kind of jobs they'll be recruiting for and in general try to sell their company.

I don't think it would hurt to ask "what sort of growth opportunities does this firm offer", but take the answer with a grain of salt. Every company will tell you about the amazing opportunities they offer, whether or not they actually exist.

I think those kind of questions are better suited to school alumni who have some employment experience with the company. That is the true value of alumni, you can find out what it's really like to work at a company, minus all the BS.

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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2008, 19:41
By informational interview, I meant: reaching out to an alum placed at a company I'd like to work for, asking questions about the company/the work, etc. The purpose wouldn't be to get a job out of the interview but rather, just to learn about what the daily work entails, what company life is like.

This is similar to informational interviews held on campus but the difference is that it's self-initiated as opposed to being offered by the company...

hope this helps clear up my question :)
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2008, 19:42
refurb wrote:
I think those kind of questions are better suited to school alumni who have some employment experience with the company. That is the true value of alumni, you can find out what it's really like to work at a company, minus all the BS.

RF


Thanks refurb! So is it considered okay to reach out to alums before school starts? or is it only appropriate afterwards? Just not sure what the protocol is...

:)
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2008, 09:32
ac8706 wrote:
By informational interview, I meant: reaching out to an alum placed at a company I'd like to work for, asking questions about the company/the work, etc. The purpose wouldn't be to get a job out of the interview but rather, just to learn about what the daily work entails, what company life is like.

This is similar to informational interviews held on campus but the difference is that it's self-initiated as opposed to being offered by the company...

hope this helps clear up my question :)


Oh I see! :cool

I would think that once you've accepted at a school, then it wouldn't be out of place to contact alumni.

However, it's likely to be a hit-or-miss type of deal. Some alumni are more eager to get involved then others (just my experience in emailing alumni from Duke). You might want to contact the industry club at the school and get the names of alumni who are open to those kind of interactions!

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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2008, 11:00
refurb wrote:
ac8706 wrote:
By informational interview, I meant: reaching out to an alum placed at a company I'd like to work for, asking questions about the company/the work, etc. The purpose wouldn't be to get a job out of the interview but rather, just to learn about what the daily work entails, what company life is like.

This is similar to informational interviews held on campus but the difference is that it's self-initiated as opposed to being offered by the company...

hope this helps clear up my question :)


Oh I see! :cool

I would think that once you've accepted at a school, then it wouldn't be out of place to contact alumni.

However, it's likely to be a hit-or-miss type of deal. Some alumni are more eager to get involved then others (just my experience in emailing alumni from Duke). You might want to contact the industry club at the school and get the names of alumni who are open to those kind of interactions!

RF


Good idea. Will do!
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2008, 11:16
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I've been doing informational interviews with alumni from my alma mater for a couple of years now. Even when I wasn't explicitly seeking a new job, but just informally wanted to know more about a certain industry - say consulting, or corporate development.

Obviously, not everyone will agree to such an interview, some might take a telephone call and others might invite you over for lunch, but it's certainly reasonable to contact school alumni once you've been admitted and are at least somewhat certain about matriculating.

You can make the argument that you have a lot of time now and would like to kick into recruiting mode by the time you start school, so you're trying to gather as much information as possible.

Just approach informational interviewing with the right expectations.
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2008, 22:52
I had always assumed that it was fine to do informational interviews with alums before school starts but I was browsing the Duke admitted students page the other day (while trying to avoid doing any actual work) and I noticed that they strongly reccomend you DO NOT contact alums before school starts. They had their reasons, and I can't remember them, but it definitely surprised me. Refurb and ac you guys may want to check it out - I think I found it in the career section on the Duke admit website under Do's and Don'ts (it was a don't). If you find it you should probably post it here for the benefit of others (yeah I know I could do that myself but I dont feel like looking for it ok :) ). Personally I still think its ok and might choose to do it but reading that gave me some second thoughts. I may set up informationals (before school starts) through undergrad alums instead.

As far as what to ask, I'm not really sure about that. But I do know that for consulting and banking recruiting setting up informational interviews with multiple alums is an expected part of the recruiting process. So even though its not official, I'm sure you are evaluated here just like you are during every other recruiting event (networking events, dinners, coffee chats, etc). So I would keep that in mind when thinking about what questions you're going to ask.
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 30 Dec 2008, 15:33
Yeah they often frown on reaching out too early. First of all, I dont think any school is going to give you access to the alumni database until you arrive in the fall (just because you paid your deposit doesnt make you a student yet). Reaching out to alums you find on places like linkedin or facebook is going to be a no no for you too.

Honestly guys dont worry about informational interviews until you start in the fall at the earliest...usually its later in the fall and during the winter where its really helpful. As for what to ask thats depends on what you want to get out of the coversation. Are you trying to find out what the company culture is like, career paths, their job specifically, industry stuff...

Try to keep it to 30 minutes, they will talk a lot so you will be amazed at how few questions take up 30 minutes when you do some followups so you really need to have an agenda. Let them end the conversation, so it might last 15 minutes or could last over an hour. Follow-up with thank yous and if you have more questions and got along with them feel free to go back for more information. Suck up a little about how great the first conversation was and how valuable you found it and were wondering if you could ask a few more questions. Dont try that with every single person...you have to really read the situation to see whether thats OK or not.
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 30 Dec 2008, 15:55
riverripper wrote:
Yeah they often frown on reaching out too early. First of all, I dont think any school is going to give you access to the alumni database until you arrive in the fall (just because you paid your deposit doesnt make you a student yet). Reaching out to alums you find on places like linkedin or facebook is going to be a no no for you too.


Could you expand a little more on why contacting alum or members in general in a field of interest through linkedin is a no no?

Thank you,
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 30 Dec 2008, 22:01
I slightly disagree with riverripper here. Informational interviews (the ones that AC is talking about, learning about the industry, company. or "day-in-the-life") can begin after you get admitted. River is correct that most schools won't give you access to the alum database until you start school in the fall, but some schools (Haas, namely) gave me a short list of alums in my intended industry who are willing to talk to students trying to make a decision between schools. I spoke with 3 alums at different companies for 30-60 minutes each and learned a great deal about what the industry is like and how Haas is perceived in those companies. Another classmate spoke with alums at an alumni event (which admitted students were invited to) and got a microfinance summer internship (before school) in Asia.

I would recommend trying to do some informational interviews, but not too many (2-3 in one or maybe two industries is plenty before school starts). Get contacts from your career center, current students, or other alums you may have spoken to when you were applying. Most schools have alums who are very willing to help.

Finally, in regards to contacting through linkedin and facebook, I would not advise against it, but like I said above, don't go around blasting the lists until school starts, since your career interests may change 180 degrees after you start school for a few weeks.
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2009, 14:03
I know this is prolly common knowledge for most, but figured I'd post some sample informational questions anyway. Note: these are intended for the "tell me about what you do" type of interviews that you initiate on your own and not through school. I'm sure the various career offices at schools provide better samples to use w/ recruiters.

Questions to ask about a career field:

- What types of positions are available in the field?
- What general skills are most important to possess to succeed in the field?
- What kind of training, education or background do you recommend?
- What are some alternative methods of entry into the field?
- What characterizes a typical post-mba employee in the field?
- What is the outlook for the future of the field in terms of new and expanding employment opportunities?

Questions to ask about the organization/employer:

- What are some of the strategic goals of the organization (i.e. business expansion, new products or services, facility development)
- What is the philosophy of the organization?
- Can you describe an entry-level and a mid-level position?
- Can you describe your job?
- What is a typical career path from entry-level to top management?

Are there others that you all use?
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Re: Informational Interviews [#permalink] New post 11 Feb 2009, 14:21
IHateTheGMAT wrote:
I had always assumed that it was fine to do informational interviews with alums before school starts but I was browsing the Duke... strongly recommend you DO NOT contact alums before school starts. They had their reasons, and I can't remember them, but it definitely surprised me.


It is typically as River says - that you weird out alum by approaching them a little without the formal procedure, and that there is normally a solid routine of rehearsal at each school on how informational interviews perform for each industry and what behavior is expected.

Mostly, they want to try and avoid you burning bridges before you start by being overly keen. All the same, I know people who have set them up before starting with varying success.
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Re: Informational Interviews   [#permalink] 11 Feb 2009, 14:21
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