When you’re looking to create new opportunities and meet influential people, it’s easy to forget that there are many ways of achieving this end. With the right tactics, these two goals are actually one in the same.

An exploratory interview is this opportunity.

In practice, it doesn’t differ from a job interview that much. The main difference is that there may be no openings for you to fill, so the pressure is off!

Decision-makers generally welcome the chance to speak with high level talent. And, if they think you would be a good fit for their company, your name will come up when there’s an opening before they even post the job.

Exploratory interviews give you the opportunity to network, gather information, and expand your career options.

Informational Interviews: The Link Between Where You Are & Where You Want To Be

Are there any skills you need to gain as you look to take on a high-level leadership role?

Do you need to develop new processes, have more experience, or build new connections?

All these factors are important, but oftentimes the key to opening the door that leads to new career options is connections.

As you look to transition into a new position, informational interviews will prove an essential way in the door. Executive positions aren’t always promoted, and even if they are, it may only be a formality, as the company in question may already have several people in mind.

In an exploratory interview, you can connect with important stakeholders in the company without all the pressure that comes along with a formal interview. Asking and answering questions in a casual setting allows you to build relationships that will help you land your next job.

An Opportunity To Learn More About A Company You’re Interested In

Companies tend not to reveal every detail concerning a position or its accompanying requirements. Though it is valuable to dig into publicly available information, this will only take you so far. What you need is an insider’s perspective.

Scheduling an informational interview is a good way to learn what the needs of the company are as well as the challenges they’re facing in their corporation. You can gather information around what they require in an executive and what their industry is lacking.

There is a great deal you can uncover about a company’s needs and what you can bring to the table. Essentially, you will gain access to information you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

A Way To Identify Critical Next Steps

You may not be looking for a position right now. But an informal interview is nevertheless an effective tool for your ongoing job search efforts.

Sometimes, the need to find our next career is unexpected. Working out your next moves now will yield wonderful options, even if you don’t expect them soon! Exploratory interviews can help you stabilize and mitigate against potential risk.

Final Thoughts

Exploratory interviews will help you:

  • Reaffirm the path you’re on and what you’re doing to uncover next steps.
  • Take a close look at your skill set and identify any gaps that need to be filled in.
  • Find new ways of looking at your career path. You may discover that you’d prefer to work in a different industry!

Be courteous when booking and participating in exploratory interviews. Your questions should be guided by your interest in the company, industry, or position and not by a desire to “spy” on the competition or uncover some juicy tidbits that could help you in your current job.

Do your research, delve into your findings, keep it short, and follow up with the people you connect with.