Just over a week ago, I wrote about mistakes to avoid when seeking an informational interview. In it, I explained what an informational interview is and isn’t, as well as the common mistakes I’ve seen people make. If you missed it, you can check out that post here.
Today, I’m here to tell you how to request an informational interview by email and get greater results. If you follow these steps, you should see an increase in the number of people willing to speak to you. And if not meetings, you’ll get more replies.
I’ve been preaching this since I started writing on careers, but you need to show gratitude for the respondent’s time. You always have to expect that whoever you’re contacting is getting similar requests from elsewhere. The first thing you need to do is thank them for taking the time to read your message. If you’ve been blown off before, you know a response isn’t a guarantee. It let’s them know you’re appreciate and that you value their limited time.
Tell them why you thought he or she was a great resource.
This is different from how you found them, though you should share that too. Highlight what you know about their background, your goal and how a conversation with them will get you closer to achieving it. The goal should not be to turn the discussion into a job. It should be to make you a better overall applicant or job seeker.
Propose time blocks.
Don’t make them do all the thinking. They should be able to look at the times you said worked and quickly reference their calendars. You also want to convey you’re willing to work around their schedules. There is no entitlement, only humility.
Thank them again. And if they can’t accommodate, be prepared.
Reinforce your gratitude. It’ll help you begin and end on a high note. Be prepared for a no. Let them know that if they can’t accommodate, they’re free to point you in the right direction. You may be thinking but doesn’t that give them an out? The truth is that if they’re going to say no, they’re going to say no. But maybe they know someone that may be able to help you. On top of that, always be prepared for just one response.
Here’s (a sample of) what an informational interview request should look like:
Hi Mr. Johnson,
Thanks for taking the time to read my message. I’m trying to figure out what it takes to work as an HR professional in a new media company and came cross your profile in a LinkedIn search. It looks like you’ve been successful in turning my dream into your reality, and I’d love to chat with you about how you made it happen.
I know your time is valuable, so I plan to limit this conversation to no longer than an hour. I’m available Wednesday and Thursday from 11am to 3pm. Please let me know if any of these time blocks work for you. If you’re not free, I’m happy to chat the following week. I’m also willing to reach out to anybody you think could help me further my career. Thanks again for reading my message, and I look forward to hearing back from you!
If you follow these steps, you’ll increase the likelihood of getting a response. Good luck in your search and let me know if you have any questions.