An Informational interview is so painful. However, they don’t have to be!

The facts

You just saw a sexy job posting from Goldman Sachs. A former colleague now works there. You email them for a call. Now the hard part…

How do you start the conversation? How do you ask them if they can help you with a posted job? Should you ask them to help you with the posted job?

Does this sound like you?

You are really bored with your current position. No growth potential since the upper management levels are as thick as pea soup. Your boss is also a major micromanager.

You cruise the banking job boards and see the perfect position for you at Goldman Sachs. You have the right experience, the title is perfect, and you get excited.

You also know that your former colleague Rob works there.

You set up a call with Rob and then what?

#1 mistake in the informational interview

The biggest mistake job seekers make in this situation is they hop on the phone with their contact and after the niceties, they discuss the job posting. Why is this wrong, since it seems natural?

Why is this mistake so bad?

  • The job posting might be fake as 75% of them are
  • Your contact may not be able to really help you with that job
  • Other sexier jobs could exist
  • You are going for the jugular and disrespecting your contact
  • You never offer to do anything for them

There is a subtle way to do things and there’s banging someone over the head with a hammer. Hammer won’t do it this time or any other time, especially in a job search.

Informational interview best practices

You must think “relationship” first, “transaction” second”. In other words, you are speaking with your contact to reconnect and find out their perspective on Goldman (relationship). The fact that you saw a job posting in your job search (transactional) is a secondary reason for the call (tertiary actually).

Bottom line: Ease into your ask which may not be the job posting!

Follow the attached diagram for success in your informational interview preparation.

  1. Thank them for their time and engage in small talk
  2. Let them know the purpose for the call (not the job posting but to reconnect)
  3. Catch them up on your work history (all the while selling yourself)
  4. Talk about the industry so you learn something new
  5. Talk about why their company interests you (do some research)
  6. Ask where the growth areas are and where in the firm you fit in (not the job post)
  7. You might discover opportunities far greater than that of the job posting
  8. If you don’t hear anything sexier than the job in the posting, then ask for an introduction
  9. Ask if you can do anything for them

Informational interview summary

  • Relationship first, job second
  • Job postings are 75% fake
  • Start general and work towards your ask
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