The term informational interview is an intimidating concept because most people are unsure of what it is. An informational interview has multiple definitions and can benefit both potential job seekers and employers. Below we’ll go through the purpose of the employer led informational interview and the job seeker led informational interview.

Employer Led:

When a company wants to scout for prospective talent or create a pipeline, managers may choose to do informational interviews. This is a good practice to compare talent within the competitive sphere of the operating business and to reduce downtime regarding potential attrition, selection, and onboarding of a new employee. This differs from a job interview because it’s surveying talent and looking toward the future; the goal is to understand the current climate of the workforce available and not to hire immediately. Moreover, it gives an employer an idea of what their competitors may be also expecting of their employees, which serves as valuable intel to a leadership team.

Job Seeker Led:

When a person is seeking out a company, field or role change, they will engage with the potential or current employer for an informational interview. If it is an outside company, they will use networking opportunities or direct reach out attempts to discuss employment opportunities within the field.  Some important gains can be made here. If you are exploring a new company, you will be able to gain insight on how a competitor works with and trains their employees. It also gives you a snapshot of company culture and if your roles and responsibilities are in line if you decide to pursue other opportunities.

If a person chooses this path within their own company, etiquette suggests that their manager should be aware and that the area or role they are expressing interest in is purely exploratory at this time. A lot of employees participate in an informal version of this process during an employee review session. The largest gain an employee can make in participating within house is demonstrating their legitimacy towards career path and openness to change. It also can give excellent insight to the responsibilities of other roles and departments.

Currently, the job seeker led informational interview is a more common practice. However, employers are becoming increasingly aware of the changes within the talent sphere and are making more active strides in inviting potential applicants for informational interviews. Industry trends suggest that employer led information interviews will become more prevalent as we see an increase in aging populations retiring and a new workforce entering with much more options from companies.  

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