#10: The informal interview – how to make the best out of it.

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It’s always about (first and great) impressions… so, no matter whom you speak to (HR, ambassadors, friends of friends…), you want to make a great impression to each single person who is somehow connected to helping you land that dream job you want. How do you make the most of this conversation – while still keeping things casual and comfortable? As always: be prepared. Here’s a 3-step-guide for your next meeting that’ll make sure you get the advice you need.

1.) Intro

Start the conversation by asking something about his or her experiences so far – in the job but also personal (opinions) related to the industry:

  • How did you start working in this field?
  • What’s it like to work at your company?
  • What projects are you working on right now?
  • What’s your opinion on XYZ happening in the industry right now?

You should also be prepared to answer questions about yourself – have an opinion and express it.

2.) Questions ?

After you’ve made some general conversation, it’s time to get to the chase: ask for the advice you can’t get anywhere else. Before the meeting, think through the insider information you want to learn from this person. What information are you seeking? Is there something you can learn from this person that would be difficult for you to learn on your own? Depending on where you are in the job search process, adjust your questions accordingly. For example, if you’re still in exploration mode:

  • How did you choose this company or position over others in your field?
  • What is the most rewarding thing about working in this industry? The most challenging?
  • My background is in mechanical engineering – how do you think I can best leverage my previous experience for this field?

If you are in the final stage of your job search, ask questions like:

  • I’m waiting to hear back about interviews for positions – what advice would you give me about how to best prepare?
  • What experiences, skills, or personality traits does your company look for in new hires?
  • What do you wish you had done differently when you first started at your company?
  • What job search advice would you give to someone in my situation?

3.) Thank you!

Don’t forget to to thank your contact having taken the time to speak to you. Even better, keep him or her in the loop about your process – that way you always have „an excuse“ to contact them. And once the company hires you, you already have your first buddy there!

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