Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist
3 flavors of transferable skills

Join Isaiah as he talks about the right way of carrying out an informational interview and introduces the concept of professional intimacy

Here’s a quick rundown of this week’s episode…

  • First, Isaiah explains the goal of an informational interview and how this relates to the levels of professional intimacy
  • Next, Isaiah explores the first level of professional intimacy and the questions you should ask at this level
  • Finally, Isaiah discusses how to transition from the first to the second level of professional intimacy and what questions to ask when you’re there

From This Week’s Show… 

What Is The Goal Of An Informational Interview

The purpose of an informational interview is to elevate the other person’s credibility – the employee that is. You are showing appreciation for their success in industry.

They have gone before you and transitioned successfully. They are where you want to be. Act like it. Serve them in the conversation. By doing so, you’ll leave the other person wanting to help you and even work with you in the future. And this all starts by learning to navigate the four levels of professional intimacy correctly.

The First Level Of Professional Intimacy

The first level of professional intimacy when talking about networking and informational interviews is termed “Topical Intimacy.” The best question to ask a networking contact to get them to this level of intimacy after they reply to your initial connection or reconnection request is: “What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?” 

Everyone is currently doing something in their work that is on the top of their mind. It might be challenging, but it’s likely also rewarding. It’s a healthy challenge. It’s too early in your professional relationship to bring up the challenge, but it’s the perfect time to ask them what they’re working on and encourage a positive response by framing the question in a way that only allows a positive reply. 

People enjoy talking about positive, topical experiences, especially when they’re related to their favorite thing in the world: them and their life. No matter who you are talking to, they will enjoy talking about what excites them. By asking this question, you can be confident that your connection will take this cue and give you information that will help you move to the next level of professional intimacy.

How To Move To The Second Level Of Professional Intimacy

The second level of professional intimacy is termed “Challenge Intimacy.” The perfect question to ask a networking contact to get them to this level of intimacy is: “What are some of the challenges associated with your role?” While this question is an extension of the first question, it will allow you to go a bit deeper into the other person’s professional life and get to know both their personality and mindset better. 

In the first level, you asked your connection to talk about what excites them about their job; most people will focus on only the enjoyable aspects of their life and work at this stage. Once you ask about the challenges, you subtly ratchet up the rapport by offering them a new person (you) to share their struggles with while keeping the conversation focused on their job.

Here is an example of how to transition from first- to second-level professional intimacy: “Well, right now I’m working on a new project that has some amazing potential. We’re all pretty excited about it at work.” “That’s great to hear. Congratulations. I love when I can get my hands on an engaging project, even if it’s challenging. What are some of the general challenges you’re facing with the project right now?” 

Notice that you’re keeping the conversation light and general (avoiding intensity) by asking about “general challenges” instead of getting too specific. You’re also identifying with the other person by showing you understand what it’s like to work on an engaging project and expressing that you also enjoy it.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

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