Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Join Isaiah as he explains how to set up a successful informational interview that will increase your chances of getting a referral

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

  • First, Isaiah discusses the general mindset your should have when setting up an informational interview
  • Next, Isaiah examines the right way to carry out the conversation so you engage your interviewee
  • Finally, Isaiah reviews the seven types of questions you should ask during an informational interview

From This Week’s Show… 

The Right Approach To For An Informational Interview

During informational interviews, you are the interviewer, not the interviewee. As such, you always want the focus to be on the interviewee. Your goal is to make the other person feel important.

Understand that the more you talk about yourself, the less likely the other party will feel inclined to help you. The less likely you will be to get a referral too. Instead of appearing professional, you will appear self-centered and arrogant.

During the interview, you should also aim to gather as much information as possible about the company the other person represents. This is your chance to deeply understand what it’s like to work at their company and whether or not the company is a good fit for you.

How To Keep The Conversation Going While Remaining Professional

Don’t interrogate the other person. Don’t press them to answer certain questions and don’t be a stickler for time or topics. Firing off a list of questions that only matter to you without engaging your interviewee will create a cold and unfriendly atmosphere.

Your goal is to keep the tone casual and conversational by actively listening and responding to the other person’s stories. Don’t be afraid to go with the flow of the conversation either. If the other person veers off on a tangent – good! Let them veer. It means you’ve hit on a topic that is of particular interest to your interviewee.

Finally, keep the entire interview time to a minimum. Respect the timeframe you set previously but – and this is important – be ready with more questions in case they say, “I have another 15 minutes if you’d like to keep talking.”

The Types Of Questions You Should Ask During Informational Interviews

When it comes to keeping the conversation going, your aim is to be engaging but relaxing at the same time. This is best done by asking questions that are career focused and in the realm of the other person’s expectations. It’s best to focus on the following seven types of questions rather than memorizing the exact questions to ask:

  • Preparation—How did they learn about the position they are currently in and what was the application process like?
  • Present job—What are their current responsibilities?
  • Career future alternatives—What is the career trajectory for people in this role?
  • Lifestyle—What are the pros and cons of their position?
  • Job hunting strategies—What advice can they give PhDs wanting to secure this type of position?
  • Nature of organization—What is company culture like?
  • Expertise and qualification matching—What suggestions can they offer for a PhD looking to be successful in their field?

Pay close attention to what’s been said and ask questions when something is not clear. At the end of the interview, try to gather names of other individuals you can interview next. Then, depending on how the interview progressed, ask for a referral to a position that is open or will be opening at the company.

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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