By Sean McCoy, Talent Agent, VisionIT.
In the white hot technology job market, for many IT candidates the world is their oyster when it comes to picking a prospective employer. For others, the competition for open positions is so heated that any leg up can mean the difference between landing your dream job or not. In either case, informational interviews can be a great alternative, or precursor to a formal job interview, that can provide valuable insight into a company’s culture, environment, and a great step towards landing a job.
As a recent article in CIO magazine points out, sometimes job search tips that are “beyond the obvious” can be the difference-maker, and we think informational interviews are one such “out-of-the-box” approach IT candidates ought to consider.
Informational interviews are a great way to find out what’s going on in a company, better understand the culture and work environment, and what they’re looking for in a candidate. It’s also a good way to get on a potential employer’s list of future candidates.
Here are a few guidelines to follow:
- Try to interview with someone who is working in your desired IT field, not just with someone who is in human resources. The way to land an interview is by digging through your network of friends, family, former colleagues, trade groups, and social media. Find out who you’re connected to and start building the bridge to make new contacts
- Before you reach out to the contacts you would like to interview, do your homework. Be prepared to know everything you can about the interviewer and the company. Research the company’s latest developments and make a list of questions. Some examples include how the firm sources job candidates and what corporate culture is like. Prepping with questions will help ease your nerves, but it will also show the interviewer that you’re serious about your job search and their company.
- When your interview takes place, don’t pepper your interviewer with questions. Let the conversation flow normally and interject a question when it’s appropriate. You shouldn’t try to sell yourself directly, but it’s okay to have a few sentences prepared that outline your background and interest in the company. Again, let the conversation flow normally, and insert information about yourself where it makes sense. Be interested and engaged, but don’t try to force anything.
- When it comes to scheduling interviews, take what you can get. People are busy, and any time they can give you is valuable. Even if it’s just a few minutes on the phone or an email exchange, it’s still a foot in the door. Whatever time you are given, make sure to thank the interviewer for their time and input.
It doesn’t matter if a company is officially hiring or not. Having good informational interviews is the best way to make a good first impression before an official interview takes place. It’s always valuable to get a foot in the door, and it proves your initiative.