Informational Interviews – Part 1

Informational Interviews – Part 1

Have you ever considered a career switch? Do you sometimes suspect your nursing career is moving in the wrong direction, but you don’t know how to correct it?

Like anything, your career changes and opportunities might come up or a new path might interest you. But if you aren’t sure how to make a smooth transition from where you are to where you want to be, you could waste a lot of time spinning your wheels.

How can you find out what you need to know before committing to a full-scale career overhaul? Start with an informational interview.

Informational interviews, informal meetings where you have the chance to ask someone specific career-related questions, are a great way to learn about a different career path or a new role to see if it’s really what you’d like.

This is your chance to get great insight from people who are already where you want to be. You can ask about their education and how they achieved success, but there’s one unspoken rule in an informational interview. The meeting isn’t a time to ask for a job – ever.

Keep the conversation focused on training, education, professional skills, goals, and different responsibilities. This setting is also a great way to uncover the personal qualities that make someone successful in the role or industry as well.

Setting up an informational interview isn’t difficult, but you do have to find the right person to ask. Requesting a meeting with someone you already know or a professional in your network is the best place to start, but you can also do a little searching around.

Where do you look? Check out organizations where people have the job you want or even professional societies. Send an email or make a phone call and let the person know how you found them (this is where a personal recommendation from a mutual colleague is especially helpful), what you’re asking for, and whether an informational interview is something they would consider. A cold call is intimidating sometimes, but most people are flattered by this request. If they don’t have the time to meet, they will tell you.

Be very mindful of the time and effort you are requesting. Keep a meeting short (maybe over coffee or a quick lunch – you pick up the tab) and ask them to suggest a convenient meeting spot.

And while this meeting isn’t the same as a job interview, it’s still a professional situation so be prepared. Keep the conversation flowing and know when to wrap everything up. Even if some of your questions have gone unanswered, keep your eye on the clock and thank the person for being so generous with their time. And always follow up with a quick thank you note.

Read the next blog post for exactly how to prepare and what questions to ask to get the most from an informational interview.