Networking Before the Interview

networkingAny person interviewing for a position will have to cope with some level of nervousness in the minutes, days, even weeks leading up to an interview. As a college junior, soon-to-be college senior, I often think about how I will deal with my own nervousness before I interview for jobs and internships during my last year of college. Since it is tough for anyone to completely do away with their nervousness, instead of trying to get rid of my symptoms, a person should at least try to lower them first. By networking before a future interview, a person can hope to not only lower my level of nervousness, but to increase their understanding of the job to which they are applying while making important business connections in the process.

Finding a Connection Within Your Network

Whether ‘Six Degrees of Separation’—the idea that any person in the world is connected to any other person through five people or less—is a valid theory or not, it is important to know who within the network of people you know are valuable toward your future career. The best references, however, are not necessarily family members or friends, but former professors and/or employers who can speak about the abilities that a future employer might find appealing. With that in mind, a professional in your future field with whom you are only acquainted can also serve as a valuable connection, especially if you consider setting up an informational interview.

Informational Interviewing

An informational interview is quite the opposite of the interview a person might have once they apply for a job, in fact, it is quite the opposite. An informational interview will allow a potential applicant to gather more information about the position they are interested in—including job duties and expectations, skills required, job goals, etc.—before applying. Requesting an informational interview with a professional connection can be done over the phone, in person, or by letter, however, a letter may be the best option if the professional has little free time, as it gives them the option to respond at their own convenience. According to Forbes, an informational interview “is your chance to say everything you can’t in a cover letter.” The New York Times blog gives hints on what to ask the subject of your informational interview.

Goals of Networking Beforehand

A potential applicant who has taken the time to ask questions about a future job shows interest, which sets them apart from the stack of résumés an employer has already received. If and when a person who has completed an information interview gets an interview, he or she will be more prepared and comfortable speaking about which skills and experiences apply most to the job. Alternatively, a person might complete an information interview, only to decide that the job just isn’t right for them, which is far better than starting a position in an unfitting job. I, for one, intend to use informational interviewing to gain perspectives on different jobs within the Healthcare Informatics industry. Perhaps you should, too.


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3 Comments on “Networking Before the Interview
  1. I love the layout of this post – it’s very modern and easy to navigate through. I agree that informational interviewing is a wonderful tool to “get one’s feet wet” and to prepare for an actual job interview.

    It’s interesting that you say the candidate who has completed an information interview will be more prepared and comfortable speaking about their skills and qualifications in a job interview environment. I most definitely agree with that point and I would add that I think other forms of reflecting upon experiences do the same. Personally, writing blog posts and expanding upon my experiences throughout my blogfolio has taught me how to clearly convey my thoughts in an appropriate and professional language while also giving me the confidence to showcase my skills and abilities to a potential employer.

  2. What an informative read! I’ve never asked for an informational interview but upon reading your blog I am convinced that it is the wise thing to do. You plan on using informational interviews to gain perspectives on different jobs, I think that is a wonderful idea. I would also use them to help myself stand out for a job I am really interested in. I believe it could help my image as an able applicant who is not only qualified, but passionate as well.

  3. I absolutely love how you broke down the whole process in your post. I totally agree, one of the best ways to show your interest is by setting up as many connections as possible, whether it’s through social media or informational interviews. You have to make yourself known and you interest to be apparent and employers will truly see how dedicated you can be. Informational interviewing is a great technique to get your foot in the door of your desired field. Good luck to you on your informational interviews too!

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