Now you’ve learned the basics of informational interviews as well as heard about the benefits of conducting one. You’re just about ready to do one of your own, but before you do, here’s what you should know when asking someone to do an informational interview.
In order to have a productive informational interview, it’s important to have an understanding about what they’re looking to get out of it as well.
Jamie Harrelson tells us what it’s like to be on the giving side of these interviews. As a Senior Strategist at DDB California, she is happy to give people information about her field and enjoys being able to keep in touch with the younger generation.
What interests you about informational interviews?
I believe in informational interviews. They show initiative on one side and generosity on the other. Those qualities should be nourished.
I get to learn about how younger people are using their education and what they’ve been told about the business I work in. I give informational interviews to educate more people about the realities of my work as a strategist and to show the bright minds that they really can do whatever they want. I am also looking for key traits: Bravery, honesty, research skills, consideration, oration skills, and above all a creative mind that keeps up. Very rarely would it turn into a new hire—a welcome surprise if it does.
I do as many as possible, and make it a priority when I get the request.
What was your process like?
It’s different according to the people and the questions they ask. What never changes is how honest I am, how excited I am to share, and how I won’t pretend to be formal. They’re here to see the real side of advertising. So, no fluff allowed.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while giving these interviews and how did you overcome it?
Sometimes they can be a little canned. And I know right away those aren’t the people who belong here. Makes for an awkward/formal 20 minutes until we can say it’s over. Sorry, that’s a little harsh, but true.
What did you most enjoy about giving these interviews?
I like watching people react to me, and hopefully coming out of their shell.
What suggestions do you have for someone who would like to give or has been asked to give similar interviews?
Be yourself, be generous with your time.
Homework time! Now that you have a better idea about what those who give informational interviews are hoping to get out of their time, try to keep that in mind when asking for an interview. Even though it can be nerve-racking, try to be yourself and ask questions that will help your interviewee give you an accurate picture of what the industry is like.