3 Tips for Better Informational Interviews

February 19, 2020
Steve and Sundie
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I get this question a lot: “Steve, how do I decide what kind of business to start, or career to choose?” It keeps coming up, so I thought we would start the conversation on the podcast with my good friend and fellow Greenhouse team member, Sundie Marquardt. Sundie teaches us this week the importance of knowing yourself and three tips for better informational interviews.

Sundie is an expert who has coached over ten thousand people, spoken on countless stages, and trained groups on communication, career growth, leadership development, parenting, and company culture - so she knows a little about this stuff! ;) You can read more about her, or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Want the honest answer for how to find the right business to start or career? It simply starts with having conversations. If you’re feeling frustrated or tension with this, you’re in good company! The reality is that learning how to have a strategic conversation with many people and being a naturally curious person will help you answer what to do next. On the podcast we talk about how to actually ask for these conversations with people, as well as three tips for how to structure your conversation.

Tip #1: Know Yourself

It’s so important to know yourself. No matter your personality, you need to be strategic in your conversations, and know your barriers or what may hold you back.

Tip #2: Set Small Goals

Whether you’re a beginner or confident at having conversations with new and interesting people, you need to set small goals for doing this regularly. 

  • If you’re a beginner, it might look like starting with having coffee with two people you know to role play and practice your questions.
  • If you’re confident, challenge yourself to have two new coffee conversations every month!

Tip #3: Set the Agenda

When you’re meeting with someone new, you’ll want to respect their time. So, it’s important to come in with an agenda. Think in advance: what questions do I want to ask? 

  • What will I share about my own experience? 
  • What do I need from this conversation? 
  • What can I offer to this other person? 

It may feel strange to have an agenda – you might even feel like it’s pushy. Don’t worry. It’s better to be organized and show your professionalism, rather than fumbling around and ending the conversation without sharing and receiving what you needed!

Be encouraged: this takes time and practice. You may have some awesome conversations. Others, well let’s be honest, they might still be really nerve-wracking and awkward.

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