Tapping the Hidden Job Market: Q&A with Dr. Kim Hogelucht

Friday, March 2, 2012

hogelucht.jpgTapping the Hidden
Job Market

Q&A with Dr. Kim Hogelucht

The Viewpoint asked Dr. Kim Hogelucht, PLNU associate professor of business, about her recent book, Tapping the Hidden Job Market Through Informational Interviews. For the book, Hogelucht conducted 16 in-depth interviews with eight students and eight professionals on both ends of informational interviews that resulted in internship offers.

Q: How are informational and formal job interviews different?

A: An informational interview addresses many of the limitations of a formal job interview: anxiety, inaccurate assessment, impression management, and recognition of similarities. In an informational interview, the focus is on learning about another person’s occupation, which allows for an interview context that fosters flattery, decreases anxiety, and promotes increased depth in the dialogue.

Q: Can those looking into a career change take advantage of this practice?

A: Absolutely… An informational interview is not only a great way to fine-tune one’s career goals, but it is also an effective way to network. However, possessing a genuine desire to learn is often the key that gets a professional to open up. The professionals in my study all mentioned that the students who conducted the informational interviews with them truly had a passion to learn.

Q: What is the best way to find and approach professionals for informational interviews?

A: With three-fourths of job openings filled through the hidden job market, you need to talk to everyone about your career interests. In setting up an informational interview, I encourage my students to decide on a career field of interest, call and email the professionals they are interested in interviewing, ask for 20 minutes of their time, and explain that the objective of an informational interview is to fine-tune career goals.

Q: If you could only ask five questions at an informational interview, what would they be?

A: Although I do not require my students to ask certain questions, I give them some suggestions, such as:

  1. How did you get into this career field?
  2. What is a typical day like?
  3. What is the greatest challenge you face in your position?
  4. What is the most rewarding or satisfying part of your job?
  5. What do you wish you’d known about this career field when you were a student like me?


Hogelucht's "Five Key Tips for Informational Interviews"

  1. Do not arrive late.  Plan for traffic, parking, etc. Drive to the professional’s workplace the day before your interview, so you are familiar with the route. Arriving 10 to 15 minutes early allows you time to review your questions and gather your thoughts.
  2. Be prepared! Dress professionally and have questions written down that you would like to ask. Research the company, the products or services it offers, and the mission statement. Although you are not in the “hot seat,” you can be certain that the professional is interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing him/her.
  3. Be enthusiastic and interested in learning. Professionals can tell if you are conducting an informational interview just to complete an assignment or if you are truly interested in what they do. Show a sincere interest and the professional will open up and share more than you ever imagined.  People like to talk about what they do—especially if they love what they do! If they do not love what they do, you want to know why—Is it the job responsibilities, the hours, etc.  Be enthusiastic about learning both the positive and the negative aspects of a job, for both sides are helpful in fine-tuning your career goals.
  4. Be respectful of the professional’s time. When the scheduled twenty minute interview time is up, politely mention it. You could also mention that you have more questions if the professional is willing to answer them, but you understand that the scheduled time is up and you want to be respectful of his/her time. Most of the informational interviews my students conduct go longer than the scheduled twenty minutes—some even lasting as long as three hours—yes, three hours. 
  5. Send a thank you note. Writing a thank you notes shows your appreciation for the professional’s time and advice. Tailor your thank you note to the professional by highlighting something specific you learned from him/her. This small gesture makes a big impression.