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Informal Interview - How to Triumph and Avoid Mistakes

Coaching Blog - Informal Interview - Career Success - CoachMe Vancouver

Career Success Part 1 – The Informal Interview

Job seeker, career changer, or career upgrader? Set yourself up for career success with an Informal Interview. Read on for top tips, do’s and don’ts, as well as coaching questions for the best outcome.

Coaching Blog by CoachMe Founder Nadine Stille, featuring contributions by Natasha Jeshani

Coaching Blog - Natasha Jeshani - Global HR and Recruitment Consultant - CoachMe Vancouver

Welcome to the kick-off blog of our new coaching blog series Career Success.

CoachMe Vancouver is collaborating with Global HR and Recruitment Consultant Natasha Jeshani from Career Contacts and author of the book “The HR Insider: How to land your dream job, and keep it!” to offer you, our diverse community, the resources and support you need to define and succeed in your career path and thrive in your professional life.

Our Career Success partnership is designed to:

  • Provide expert job search advice, practical solutions, and opportunities, courtesy of Natasha’s expertise,

  • Ensure you are fully aligned and set up for the job of your dreams, that you get there faster, and succeed in a sustainable way by booking an empowering coaching session with one of our qualified CoachMe Vancouver Featured Coaches.

You’ll be set up for success before your job search and continue all the way through to the high demands of starting a new role or preparing for your promotion.

The first blog in our Career Success series is all about Informal Interviews.

In a time where networking, personal connections, and insights are absolutely essential for career success, an Informal Interview is an amazing opportunity to achieve all three.

Best of all, you don’t have to wait until a particular position is available in your job search. These types of meetings can, and ideally should, be part of your regular calendar all the time, at any point along your career path. They can be set up with people in new companies you’d like to explore, as well as within your current company or institution to further your knowledge and influence.

If done correctly, there’s something to gain for both parties involved.

Let’s cover the basics. What is an Informal Interview?

Natasha explains: “The most common way to do an Informal (or Information) Interview is for the job candidate to reach out for a coffee meeting. This provides the candidate with an opportunity to learn more about the company and make a personal connection before applying.” 

Career Coaching Questions:

  • What would such a meeting mean to you?

  • What position or role would your contact ideally be in, in order for the connection to be valuable to you?

What to look out for in an Informal Interview?

Coaching Blog - Job Search - Informal Interview - CoachMe Vancouver

While a coffee meeting may seem easy and straight forward, there definitely are some Do’s and Don’ts to ensure you stand out for all the right reasons.

Come prepared”, Natasha advises. “If you’ve asked for and been given someone's time to help you learn more about their role, their company or any other area that could benefit you, come prepared with an agenda, a list of questions, and be prepared to end the meeting at the predetermined time.”

Career Coaching Questions:

  • What main message would you like to convey?

  • What outcome would you like the meeting to have?

The other seemingly obvious, but often underestimated, activity is to pay attention. “Listen. When asking for advice and information, even in an informal setting, it’s important that you listen to the answers given. Take notes, acknowledge their responses and ask follow up questions.” 

Career Coaching Questions:

  • What needs to be in place for you to be fully present?

  • How can you ensure that you’ll be your best self during the meeting?

A big No-No and common mistake is to ask for someone’s time on your own terms. Be empathetic, think about a compelling reason for them to agree to meet you. Natasha thinks that the best way to get a yes is to make it easy for them to say yes. “Ask for 30 minutes, offer to bring a coffee to them, or to meet them in their office space or lobby. Asking for help with a side of demands does not work well.”

Career Coaching Questions:

  • What can you do, say, offer, or accommodate to help your contact agree to a meeting?

  • How would you like to show up for the informal interview?

Coaching Blog - Career Path - Informal Interview - CoachMe Vancouver

Top 3 Tips to prepare for your Informal Interview

Natasha compiled her best tips to give your meeting structure, meaning, and context.

  1. “Invite them to share their story. Everyone likes to know that the other person cares about who they are.”

  2. “Give them a brief overview of your intention for the meeting and ask them if there is something you are not doing that they would recommend trying.”

  3. “Ask for help. Often times, at the end of the meeting you are left not knowing what is next. Take your cues well and pay attention, but also be ok to ask for an introduction, to pass your resume on to a hiring manager, etc.”

Career Coaching Questions for a Full Alignment and Successful Informal Interviews

While every meeting is very individual and you do not have control over every aspect, you do have an influence over yourself. The Coaching Questions, in alignment with Natasha’s tips, are designed to support you in preparing for the Informal Interview by being crystal clear about your goals, broadening your options, and setting you up for the best possible outcome.

So, what do you need to do to absolutely own your next Informal Interviews?

If you’re unsure of:

  • what your career path looks like,

  • how to get to the next step in your job search,

  • how to make the most of your crucial onboarding time, or

  • the confidence and skill level you need for career success,

book a FREE initial coaching session with one of our qualified coaches at CoachMeVancouver.com/book.

As always, thank you for reading and following our coaching blog.