Any 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.
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.