Phd Informational Interview: Six Simple Rules
If you’re a Phd graduate looking for non-academic job opportunities, trying to expand your network, or just exploring your options, you are probably familiar with the infamous post-Phd informational interview. Whether you’re looking to gain insight into a particular sector, or connect with a “friend of a friend” who has been working outside the Ivory Tower, chances are you have sat in some random Starbucks to chat about potential post-Phd career opportunities in the hopes of networking your way into the non-academic world. If not, you will VERY SOON.
How do you prepare for the post-Phd informational interview, these sometimes awkward, often stimulating encounters with semi to complete strangers?
Post-Phd Informational Interview Etiquette:
- BE ON TIME: if someone is kind enough to take the time to meet with you, the least you can do is be punctual. Canceling someone at the last minute is not only rude, but could also damage your reputation.
- BRING A NOTE BOOK: There is nothing charming about using a napkin, a scrap of paper, or a receipt to jot down information. Bring a clean, and professional looking pad to take notes. Remember: Image is everything. We want to move away from the disheveled academic cliché! Besides, the person you are meeting will very likely provide you with valuable information that you don’t want to forget. Write it down!
- SHARE YOUR RESUME: Before you meet (the day of, or the night before), it is always a wise idea to send the person you’re meeting a copy of your resume so that he/she gets to know you beforehand. Also, make sure to have a hard copy of your resume on hand in your bag. This way, you’ll maximize the time you spend getting the information you need instead of monopolizing the conversation to talk about your past.
- BE UPBEAT: We know. Transitioning out of academia is not easy. Job searches are time-consuming and stressful. This is not the time and place to share your emotions. Be positive! Refrain from complaining about your situation, and avoid being critical of academia.
- BE PREPARED: Make sure that your goals for the discussion are clear to the other person. What do you want to know?
- BE THANKFUL: Send an e-mail after the meeting to thank the person for taking the time to meet with you.
And keep in mind that following these simple rules will not only enable you to make a lasting positive impression, but it will very likely help you turn a total stranger into an ally!