Posted by: Dan | August 13, 2012

Informational Interviews – Getting the Inside Scoop (Part 1)

Your best friend wants to set you up on a date, and you know the basics about the person…  But, before you commit to meeting in person, you want the inside scoop from people who know her.  The same is true for the job search…

You’re searching for your ideal career, roles, and companies.  You’ve found job descriptions that interest you.  Before you apply for the position, though, you want to learn more about it from people who work in that role.

How can you get a better understanding of the role?  Request informational interviews!

What is an Informational Interview?

This is your chance to learn if a company and a particular role are the right fit, in a no-pressure environment, since the intent of the interview isn’t to get hired.

Benefits of an Informational Interview

  • Get comfortable answering questions about your background and asking questions about a company/role.
  • Get specific questions answered.
  • Learn the best aspects of the role as well as the challenges you’ll face.
  • Learn about the company – expectations of employees, corporate culture, promotion requirements, and more.
  • Develop your plan.  Your goals may shift based on new information about your career development opportunities.

Who Should You Interview With? 

Don’t be shy!  The people in your network will help you as much as possible.  Send an email or call people in the groups below, or chat in person.  Ask them if they can put you in contact with someone at the company or industry that you’re interested in.

  1. Someone in your Network.  Do you know veterans in a role that you’re interested in?  Search through your LinkedIn contacts for vets who are current or prior employees at companies that you’re interested in. If they no longer work at the company, ask if they can connect you with a current employee (ideally another veteran).  In addition, search through your LinkedIn contacts’ connections.  If you want to connect with someone, your contact can introduce you.
  2. LinkedIn Groups.  Join veteran groups on LinkedIn and look at where members have worked.  When you find someone with a background that you’re interested in, send them a message and ask if they could set aside time for a brief discussion about the company/role.  You can also post general questions in these groups. For example, “Do any members have experience with internet security?”
  3. Groups in Your Community.  What groups do you belong to? Consider your networks through your church or religious organization, and your community groups/clubs.  For example, are you on a softball or basketball team in your community?
  4. Directly Approach Companies.  If no one in your network has experience at the companies that you’re interested in, see if the company has a veterans group.  You can request to be connected with a point of contact for the group.  Once you have a connection, ask if they can connect you with a veteran employee in a role similar to the one you’re interested in.

Stay tuned… in Part 2, we’ll describe what to prepare for the interview and what questions to ask.

Please send any questions and comments to

© 2012 SwitchStarter, LLC



  1. […] Part 1, you learned the basics about informational interviews.  Now, you’ll learn about what to prepare […]

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