January 13, 2011

Informational Interviews: What Is It and How Can It Help You?

You probably hear over and over again how important networking is and how helpful it can be when it comes to getting a job. It's true. Networking is invaluable and one of the best ways to increase your chances of getting a job. So what if you don't know a single person at your dream job? How do you build a relationship there? You use an informational interview.

What Is It 
Informational interviews are a great resource, particularly for students. It's an interview that you conduct in order to learn more about a particular job and about a person. So, it lets you learn about different jobs in the music business while building contacts. It isn't about trying to get a job and you shouldn't try to turn it into that. It's purely about education and learning from someone who is already doing what you want to do someday.

How to Get One
The best way to try to get an informational interview is just to be brave and ask. Reach out to someone and explain that you're a student trying to learn more about his or her area of expertise in the industry. Be polite and ask if you could meet up or chat on the phone to talk about it sometime. Not everyone will be willing to help you, but most people got into the music industry because someone was willing to help and mentor them. You may be surprised how many people are willing to return the favor.

What to Ask
That depends on what you want to know. Again, you should be trying to learn about the industry, not directly trying to get a job.
Some good questions might be:
What does a typical day for you involve?
How would someone interested in your field get started?
What's the typical career path?
What do you like most about this company?
How has your job affected your lifestyle?
What should a student to get experience in this area?

After the interview be sure to send a thank you and do you best to keep in touch. You can use an informational interview as a way to build your network while learning about different careers. So, one of the most important things to ask is this: is there anyone else you'd recommend I talk to? It gives you a chance to continue to network by asking if they have a friend or a coworker that may be able to help you learn more and it may even result in a job lead.
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