In talking about interviews, we have to widen the net to include a couple of other topics. These days, the interview process often includes behavioral and skills testing, and people who talk about interviews often focus on the on-the-nose issue of the job interview, to the exclusion of the highly useful and related topic of the informational interview.
But if you’re really determined to get the job you want, it may be time to embrace the informational interview as part of a complete job landing strategy.
1. If you’re thinking about changing industries or job functions, embrace the informational interview. Find 3-5 people who have the kind of job you’d like to have, and go for it. You can find tons of advice online about how to conduct informational interviews with a quick Google search. And if you doubt in the natural human capacity for helping polite and interested strangers, then have faith in the natural human need to feel important, to be seen as good at what they do, and want to be listened to.
2. Do your research. Google again, along with social networking sites, can be used to your competitive advantage. It’s all about researching the target company and coming prepared with a few strong questions to ask, to show your interest and demonstrate that you’ve done your homework. To that, let’s also add that the more you can find out about the company’s interview process, the better. Ask the person who sets up your interview. Find someone who knows someone who’s been through the process. Get every edge you can.
3. Role play. Yes, it can feel awkward and boring and seem impossible for your spouse to authentically embody the thoughts and actions of the person who will ultimately interview you. Allow me to get all “tough love” on you and say “Get over it.” Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes, write down the questions you’d want to be answered if you were the hiring manager, then get used to answering then clearly and confidently. Movie director Garry Marshall once told a floundering male film student pitching a movie idea, “No one wants to give $100,000 to a nervous man.” Same goes for women, same goes for the job market.
And what’s even better? This process works for the standard job interview, too. So if you can learn how to work it well when there’s “less at stake,” so to speak, you’ll be in a good position for the real thing.