The Informational Interview: The Foot in the Door

By Amanda Smyth ConnorHIRE

Whether you’re a recent grad or a long-time freelancer, the informational interview is a GREAT option for getting your foot in the door of a company that may otherwise not be an option.

It’s no secret that the economy sucks and the job market is doom and gloom. Regardless of the industry you are in, getting a foot in the door for an interview is the hardest part of getting a job. Once you get that interview, you’ve got skills and charm and a winning smile that will seal the deal, but getting through the door can be near impossible these days.


Step 1: Do your homework and locate the best individual to speak with regarding an informational interview. Do NOT call the front desk to ask for “whoever is in charge of editing.” In order to effectively find the right person, get on LinkedIn and don’t be shy about sending a LinkedIn message to said individual.

Step 2: Tell them that you understand that they are not hiring at this time, but that you have a deep interest in their company and skill set and that you would love to set up a time to speak with them for just 30 minutes in order to learn more about the industry, company, and specific roles.

Step 3: Most individuals are kind enough to agree to such a request. It’s very non-committal for potential employers. They aren’t in the hot seat to interview you or to evaluate your skill set, and the fact that you are interested in THEM inflates their ego a bit, puts them at ease and sets you up for a relaxed interview.

Step 4: Prepare a list of exceptional questions about specific roles in the division, about the individual’s career track and history, etc., and make certain that you segue way into questions regarding possible job opportunities in the future. Of course you’ve already sent over your resume so that they know more about you, so now you’ve essentially accomplished getting your resume in front of an important person thus setting yourself apart from other applicants in the future and you’ve had the chance to gain some inside knowledge about the company.

You are a superstar.

And while this may not get you a job immediately, this interview is an investment of your time. Now you can link with this person on LinkedIn and you can feel more comfortable in the future when you do eventually get that formal interview, because heck, you already did this once.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.