Get Informed: 8 Tips for Informational Interviews

by Vault Law Editors | April 21, 2011

  • My Vault

Legal job searches are kind of like treasure hunts these days—you want the prize, and you’ve embarked on the expedition, but the gold is really hard to find. Maybe it’s time to toss the treasure map and get creative with your job search. Sending stacks of resumes may not be good enough anymore—add to your job search with some informational interviews.

Sure, it’s not easy to beg some one to sit down with you and talk about his or her career for thirty minutes. And chit-chatting may not seem like the best way to make career moves. But informational interviews can provide you deeper insight into a particular field, and building your network can bring more opportunities your way. But how do informational interviews work, and how can you use them to crack the legal job market? Follow the tips below to get started.

1.Hit Up Your Networks: Start with the networks you already have, such as undergrad alumni networks, law school alumni networks, family and friends. Cast a wide net, and schedule meetings with anyone who is involved in a job of interest.

2.Request a Meeting: All you have to do is ask. Most people will be happy to talk about themselves for 30 minutes—don’t underestimate lawyers’ egos. Let them know that you’re interested in pursuing a similar career and would like to hear about their career paths and tools for success. It may be awkward, but think about it this way: would you turn some one down with a similar request?

3.Go to Learn : Sure, you want a job, not words. But learning about how people got where they did and what they view as a successful candidate can help you plan and position yourself better for your job search. Engage, ask questions and seek advice on how you can succeed.

4.Don’t Ask For a Job: The informational interview is not the time to hit some one up for a job (unless he or she broaches the subject, of course). Use it as an opportunity to build your network, learn about the field and understand what makes candidates successful.

5.. . . Right Away: The key to an informational interview is keeping up the connection after the interview. Maintain the relationship, and eventually you may be in a comfortable spot to ask about job opportunities at the contact’s firm or about any opportunities with his or her connections.

6.Be Prepared: Read up on your contact before you go for the interview. If they see you’re not interested, they won’t want to help you.

7.Follow Up: Don’t meet up for 30 minutes and then never talk again. Immediately follow up and thank the contact for speaking with you. From there, stay in touch with the contact, keeping him or her updated on your search and goals. If the relationship develops enough, use the contact as a resource to discuss your resume, job options, potential employers and how to make yourself a prime candidate.

8.Ask for Connections: Who you know may make the difference in landing a new opportunity. Expanding your network can only help. For every informational interview you go on, ask if they know anyone else who may be helpful to speak with. Set up meetings with those people too. Your network will balloon, and from those connections, you may better develop your career direction. And you never know when one of those contacts will encounter a job opportunity and think of you.

Get interviewing.

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Filed Under: Law

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