How to turn a classic networking tactic into a job lead

The convenience of online fact gathering has caused the informational interview to fade. But a new generation of job-seekers is rediscovering this classic networking tactic, according to research by accounting and finance staffing firm Accountemps.

Informational interviews, which allow job-seekers to establish rapport with company executives and build on it should a job opening come up later, used to be part of the due diligence into a potential employer, said Bill Driscoll, Accountemps district president.

“It was an excellent way to get a flavour of different firms and industries,” he said.

Millennials are resurrecting the informational interview, usually a half-hour question-and-answer session set up and run by a job-seeker to learn from an executive about a company or industry, he said. They research and connect with executives through social media platforms such as LinkedIn and conduct the interview face to face or via a video platform such as Skype or FaceTime.

Thirty-six per cent of the more than 2,200 CFOs Accountemps polled in large US metropolitan areas said informational interviews are a lot more common today than they were ten years ago. About one-third of the respondents said they get requests for informational interviews at least once a month.

Informational interviews remain a good way to impress an executive and develop job leads, the survey suggested. Eighty-four per cent of the CFOs Accountemps polled said they would probably alert someone who impressed them in an informational interview about a job opening.

As you set up and conduct an information interview, keep these five tips in mind:

  • Pick the right person. Research a few companies or industries in which you’re interested and identify the right contact to talk to.
  • Be strategic about how you ask for an informational interview. Ask a common contact for an introduction or send an email to start a conversation. If you use the phone, practise what you’ll say ahead of time.
  • Come prepared. Dress for a business meeting and come prepared with a list of questions to run the meeting, but don’t oversell yourself.
  • Be patient. Landing a job interview can take time, but an information interview that goes well can lead to referrals.
  • Show gratitude. Send a thank-you note after the interview and keep your new contact updated on your job search and career progress.

Sabine Vollmer ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.