Professional Networking: The Benefits of Informational Interviewing

26 Nov

informational interviewIn the business world, finding a job is often more about who you know rather than what you know. This is very important to those of us who are finishing up our Paralegal degrees and will soon be hitting the pavement searching for the perfect job. Websites such as www.linkedin.com are very helpful for setting up a professional profile and beginning your network of business professionals. You may have success finding the right job this way, but there are other options to consider as well.

A fantastic way to meet others in your field as well as get to know the “ins and outs” of companies in your area that may be looking to hire people with your expertise is to practice a type of networking known as informational interviewing. A good definition of an informational interview is “a meeting between you and a professional. The purpose is to help define your career options or research a company where you want to work. It is NOT a job interview. Do not expect anyone to make you an offer.”

The first step is to find places in your area that you want to learn more about and would be interested in working. Next, find someone you would like to interview. This could be a paralegal with the company, a lawyer, or an administrative professional. There are several articles available on how you should approach the person you choose to ask for an interview.

Once you have the interview you should compile a list of questions to ask. These could be questions about the firm or company in general, what the interviewee’s favorite part of the job is, what the interviewee’s credentials are that enabled them to get the job, and many more. You should have a different set of questions for different interviews depending on the person’s job. Some very good sample questions can be found here.

Hopefully you will have gained some good insight to the business at the conclusion of your interview. Be sure to ask the person you are interviewing if they know of others in the field who would also be interested in allowing you to interview them. This is about networking and building connections with others in your field, after all. Soon after the interview, you should follow up with the individual by sending a card, thanking them for their time. If one of the connections suggested by the interviewee helps you to land a job, it would be a good idea to let that person know and thank them again.

I hope you consider trying this method of networking and that it brings you success. Happy job hunting!

-Traci Ruffner, DTCC Paralegal Student

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