Monday, July 1, 2013

Overheard at the Office: How to Ask for an Informational Interview

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I sit next to the web editors at Women’s Lifestyle Mag…so naturally; I hear a lot of super interesting conversations! One of the discussions I over heard on Monday happens to be especially relevant to interns: the dos and don’ts of asking for an informational interview.

Informational interviews are definitely a great way to make connections in the magazine industry. I’ve always found that people are incredibly generous with their time, as long as you have a true interest in their job and their story! It seems like people genuinely love to help others get to where they want to be—they were at the bottom once, too, after all!

That said; there’s definitely an art to scoring an informational interview with someone you admire, as I found out on Monday during my internship!

I had just sat down at my desk and started to write a blog post on Monday morning when one of the editor’s at Women’s Lifestyle Mag began to ask to the other editors for their take on an email she just received from an intern at a different women’s lifestyle magazine.

The intern apparently sent a quick messaging asking the editor if she would have time to meet her at 8:00 a.m. the following week.

My supervisor and the rest of the gals at Women’s Lifestyle Magazine began to deliberate for the next five minutes on whether or not the intern’s letter would inspire them enough to meet up with her. I found their conclusions to be pretty interesting. I’m betting that a lot of editors feel the same way about asking for informational interviews as the editors at Women’s Lifestyle Mag do. Here are their juicy insider tips to scoring an informational interview with that editor you love love love!

1) Be flexible with the time frame

Editors are crazy busy, so this makes sense. The editor at Women’s Lifestyle Mag didn’t really dig the 8:30 time that the intern had suggested…and the intern didn’t list any other options. The editors were all in agreement that the intern should have been a bit more flexible with the date and time of the proposed informational interview. I’m betting that the intern figured they could squeeze the interview in before work, which kind of makes sense in a way. But, 8:00 is pretty early and she could be asking a lot from the editor if he/she has a long commute or something. The editors at Women’s Lifestyle Mag all said it would have been better for the intern to list a few different options instead. She also might have noted that she is willing to work around the editor’s schedule.

2) Show genuine interest in the magazine

Another reason the editor was not very excited about the email was because the intern who sent it didn’t show any interest in Women’s Lifestyle Mag. All of the editors agreed that they love to talk to interns, especially if they are super excited about the publication. They want to know that the person has a genuine interest in what their magazine before they talk to them.

3) Take a little bit of time to introduce yourself and explain why you want to meet the editor

This kind of relates to showing interest in the magazine. If you like the editors work—say so! Try to be specific as possible. If you think the editor’s job is incredibly interesting and you want to learn more about what they do, that might be a good tidbit to throw into your email, too.

Seems fair! I definitely plan on putting these tips to use when I reach out to an editor for an informational interview.

Ed’s Women’s Lifestyle Intern

What about you guys? Have you ever scored an awesome informational interview? What did YOU do to steal a second of the editor’s time? Sound off in the comments below!

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