Tuesday, July 17, 2012

3 Ways To Ace An Informational Interview With HR

Happy Tuesday, Edsters! 

I've been doing my best to capitalize on my time in New York by scheduling informational interviews in between internship duties. In the past I've always done informationals with editors, but last week I met with someone in Human Resources. 

In my experience, the best way to prepare for a meeting with an editor has always been to know the magazine backwards and forwards because that's what you'll talk about the most. This meeting was a bit different, though, because instead of focusing on my knowledge of a certain brand, I felt like the interviewer was more interested in my personality and how I would potentially fit within the company. It caught me off guard a little, because I generally find it much easier to talk about a magazine than myself. Here are my tips for a successful meeting with human resources, based on what I think I did (and didn't) do well.

1. Be positive
For that half hour meeting, it's important that you love pretty much everything. They often will start by asking you something basic like where you're from. In New York especially, they're probably going to ask how you like it there compared to here. I don't care if you spent the better part of your childhood counting down the days until you could move to New York, you need to paint a relatively pretty picture of your hometown. Think about how you would respond to someone asking you about your previous job at a magazine that wasn't exactly your dream publication. Are you going to go around talking about how terrible it was and how you couldn't wait to move on? Of course not. Treat this question the same way.

2. Be prepared for the "Why Magazines?" question
This was one I didn't do so well. It seems like an obvious one they could ask, but I wasn't expecting it because somehow I've gotten this far without ever having to answer it. I rambled for about a minute about how journalism had just kind of always been the plan since I was old enough to seriously think about what I wanted to do with my life. It's definitely the most truthful answer, but you'd think that in the 10 or so years since that decision was made, I would have had time to come up with a better answer to this question. Next time, I'll have something prepared ahead of time.

3. Be open to every brand
As soon as we finished talking about which of the company's magazines would be my dream to work for, she mentioned she knew a lot of people at a certain (different) brand and wondered if I would be open to working there. The brand she mentioned definitely isn't somewhere I see myself long term, but I told her I'd be open to working anywhere in the company. Other than obvious perks like a paycheck and experience at a different brand, it's important to keep in mind that everyone knows everyone in this industry. Impress an editor at one magazine and you might find out she has lunch once a week with someone from your dream magazine. In this industry and especially in New York, that's entirely feasible even if the two brands are polar opposites.

Overall, I felt like the meeting went really well and it was a good experience, even if nothing comes from it. I also learned a lot about the company from her point of view, which was really interesting.  

What are your best tips for informational interviews?

Until next Tuesday,
Edit intern

1 comment:

  1. Would you recommend bringing a portfolio for a internship or its not required?