Wednesday, July 4, 2012

5 Tips For A Perfect Informational Interview

Hey Edsters!

Lifestyle Mag is going amazingly well! I'm continuing to talk to editors about getting more assignments and am finding myself a lot busier these days, so I'm happy with the experience! 

This past week has been getting me thinking of different areas of magazines that I'd like to get experience in, or eventually work in. I have a broad range of interests and I've never been able to tell people exactly what it is I want to do within the magazine industry. As a result, I've taken the time to schedule a few informational interviews during my time in the city, and these one-on-one coffee dates with editors of all kinds have helped to point me in the right direction, and I've picked up some really great interviewing and networking tips along the way.

Aside from making sure you've got the editor's email address correct (Ed tells you how to figure them out on their HR Contact Info tab!) and starting with junior level editors on the masthead, these are a few tips I've picked up along the way that can help you get the most out of your informational interview.

1. Make sure your resume is mistake free. This might go without saying, but your resume is your ticket to your dream job all sized up into one sheet of paper. Don't give them any reason to look you over from the get go. Be fair to yourself, Edsters! Proofread, proofread, proofread!

2. After you've finally locked down a time and place to meet (Congrats!), be sure to send along your perfectly edited resume as an attachment. It's not being forward, it's being smart. If an editor is already nice enough to take time out of their day to talk to you about their job, don't make them spend extra time at the beginning of your meeting asking about your previous experience (if they're nice enough to ask). Just to be safe, bring along a hard copy of your resume just in case those pesky printers in the office aren't working that day. 

3. Know what you want to talk about. Trust me, Edsters, this is a situation where it's better to be safe than sorry. I always walk in with a pen and pad of paper that has a few "just in case" questions written on it. The type of conversation you'll have with your editor will vary every time, but for those moments when you run into a brick wall after three minutes of talking, it's best to have some back-ups prepared. They will mostly expect you to ask about their previous job experience, what their current job is like, and what advice they have about breaking into the industry, but it's also never too early to be asking about internship opportunities!

4. Send those thank you notes! I personally think it's OK to send a thank you email if all of your arrangements were made via email and if the conversation stayed fairly basic for the duration of your chat. This is no time for a form letter. Always keep them personal, and thank them for the specific advice they gave you during the time you had spent together. For those times when I'm blown away by the kindness of my editor, I also keep a stash of cards for hand-written notes to send out in the mail. Once I was offered to come into the offices, receive a tour, meet different editors, and spend about 45 minutes inside the office talking to my editor. Needless to say, this particular Ed received a personal hand-written note and a follow up email. Which reminds me...

5. Stay in touch! These lovely editors took time out of their day to do you a favor and answer all of your burning questions. If you really hit it off or if you're even slightly interested in pursuing a career opportunity with their brand, send a follow-up email every month or so to update them on what's going on in your professional life. Did you get your first byline on a piece with your current publication? Send them the link! Did they write a story that you noticed was particularly interesting? Email them and let them know how much you enjoyed reading it! These small connections that you make could only wind up helping you in the long run.

Did I leave out anything important? Let us know your best info interview dos and don'ts in the comments!

Until next week,
Ed's Lifestyle Intern

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