Thea Kelley on Informational Interviews

thea_kelleyI love informational interviews.

Maybe you didn’t get that:


If there is any shortcut in a job search, it is doing informational interviews well.  If you are looking for a “silver bullet,” look no further.  This is it.

Thea Kelley is a savvy career services professional and friend.  She recently wrote this post: Informational Interviews: 10 Tips for Success.  Her model for an informational interview is more formal than mine is, and I say never, ever do number 3 on her list… but everything else is pretty solid.

Come up with your own system, and your own rules, but DO these!  It’s fun, it can be immensely productive, and it can really help you get closer to someone who will have a big impact in your job search.

One thing she is missing, and it’s one of the most important parts of the interview, is asking for introductions to others.  “Do you know anyone else in this company (or, this industry) that I should talk to?”  Or, “Can you introduce me to any (insert job title here) here (at this company)?”  Or, ask for introductions within the industry….

You go to build trust, which is her #1, and with that trust you should get to a point where they feel comfortable saying “sure, I’ll introduce you to one of my coworkers,” or someone they met at the association luncheon, or someone they know online, or someone at one of your target companies.

And then do it again, with that person.

Have real conversations… it’s not all about getting introductions, but that’s a big reason you are there.

1 thought on “Thea Kelley on Informational Interviews”

  1. Thanks for the post, Jason, and for drawing attention to the need to ask for introductions. I agree!

    That request was implied – though not clearly enough, so I’ve updated my blog to clarify! – in the question I recommended asking:

    “What other resources should I look into?”

    This question can be a comfortable way of allowing your source to suggest people to talk to, without putting her on the spot by directly asking for the big favor of an introduction (which can have consequences for his/her reputations and relationships). Your contact may want to check with certain people before mentioning their names, or may feel more ready to make introductions in subsequent conversations.

    If there is enough rapport, it may be fine to ask for introductions in that first meeting. But I’ve learned a lot from authors like Orville Pearson and Steve Dalton – and yourself – who remind us that above all we need to *ensure that our contacts feel comfortable*.

    I do think a list of questions is helpful, as long as it’s brief and used flexibly. Those with a “J” in their MBTI typology, like me, will especially appreciate this organized approach. With other interviewees it may be best to set the list aside, with an eye towards continuing the relationship and maybe asking some questions later.

    Your comments opened important points and helped me improve my post! I always read your blog with great interest.

    Thea Kelley, CPRW, GCDF, OPNS
    Personalized, one-on-one career services. Get a great job, sooner!

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