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How to conduct a proper informational interview

(CAREER) Informational interviews comprise a technique in which you ask an employer or current employee to explain the details of their job to you. Try doing this before you transition into your next occupation!

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At some point in your career, you may ask for someone’s time to do an informational interview — a process in which a job-seeker asks questions about a field, company, or position in hopes of receiving information which will inform both their decision to go into the field and their responses to the specific job’s actual interview. Since the power dynamic in an informational interview can be confusing, here are a few tips on how to conduct one. Not how to obtain one, but how to conduct one once both parties agree to connect.

The process of an informational interview typically starts with finding a person who works in your desired field (and/or location if you have a specific company in mind) and setting up a time during which you can ask them a few questions about things like their job responsibilities, salary, prerequisites, and so on. Once you’ve set up a time to meet in person (or via Skype or phone), you can proceed with putting together a list of questions.

Naturally, you should understand the circumstances under which asking for an informational interview is appropriate before requesting one. Your goal in an informational review should be to ask questions and listen to the answers, NOT pitch yourself as a potential hire. Ever. Nobody appreciates having their time wasted, and playing on your contact’s generosity as a way into their company is a sure way for your name to end up on their blacklist.

Once you’ve set up an informational interview, you should start the conversation by asking your contact what their typical day is like. This is doubly effective: your contact will most likely welcome the opportunity to discuss their daily goings-on, and you’ll be privy to an inside glance at their perspective on things like job responsibilities, daily activities, and other positive aspects of their position.

They’ll also probably detail some drawbacks to the position — things which usually aren’t explained in job postings — so you’ll have the opportunity to make a well-informed decision vis-à-vis the rigors of the job before diving head-first into the hiring process.

After your contact finishes walking you through their day, you can begin asking specific questions. However, unless they’ve been unusually brief in their description of their duties, your best course of action is probably to ask them follow-up questions about things they’ve already mentioned rather than asking targeted questions you wrote without context. This will both indicate that you were listening and allow them to expand upon information they’ve already explained, ensuring you’ll receive well-rounded responses.

You should save the most specific questions (e.g., the most easily answered ones) for the end of the interview. For example, if you want to know what a typical salary for someone in your contact’s position is or you’re wondering about vacation time, ask after you’ve wrapped up the bulk of the interview. This will prevent you from wasting the initial moments of the interview with technical content, and it may also keep the contact from assuming a strictly material motive on your part. And be willing to ask “what does someone with your job title typically earn in [city]?” instead of their specific take-home salary which might not be reflective of the norm (plus, it’s rude, and akin to asking someone their weight).

This is also a good time to ask for general advice regarding breaking into the field, though you may want to avoid this step if you feel like your contact isn’t comfortable discussing such a topic or if you’re intending to apply as someone with experience.

Of course, you won’t always be able to meet with your preferred contact directly, especially if they work in a dynamic field (e.g., emergency services) or have a security clearance which negates their ability to answer the bulk of your questions. If this happens, you have a couple of back-up options:

1. Send an email with a list of questions to the contact, or send them your phone number with a wide-open calling schedule. This is useful if your contact has a random or on-call schedule.

2. Ask your contact if there is someone else you could connect with (it could even be their assistant).

3. Speak to the company’s HR branch to see if you can request a company-specific job requirement print-out or link. These will usually be more particular than the industry requirements. But don’t ask for something you can find yourself on the company’s Careers page online.

Nothing beats an in-person interview over a cup of coffee, but — again — wasting someone’s time isn’t a good way to receive useful information about the position in which you’re interested.

Before transitioning to your next position or career field, consider conducting an informational interview. You’ll be amazed at the amount of insider information you can glean from simply listening to someone discuss their day in detail.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

Business News

How hemp could be used to stop marijuana at the border #YeahOk

(BUSINESS NEWS) 2019 was one wacky year. Maybe that’s why the possibility of building The Wall out of hemp doesn’t shock us anymore?

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Show of hands, how many of you believe people eating tide pods was this year? Seems at least five years ago, right? That’s because 2019 was a humdinger when it comes to the pace of the news cycle. And due to that, you might have missed this little tidbit about The Wall, Steve Bannon and hemp, of all things.

After President Trump legalized hemp almost a year ago, this plant started sprouting up in farms across the country. According to Quartz, hemp experienced a planting surge of 368 percent in 2019 as compared to 2018 planting data. Of course, you can chalk that up to the explosion of the CBD industry. But there are other industrial uses for this hearty plant. Enter hempcrete and The Wall.

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon is reportedly enamored with hempcrete, a concrete compound made with 40 percent hemp byproducts. Bannon is on record telling Vice News that “I’m obsessed with the hempcrete. I think this plant has got tremendous entrepreneurial aspects to it, and it’s innovative.”

There’s more evidence to suggest Bannon considered hempcrete for The Wall. After Bannon raised millions of dollars to build his own private border wall in May, he told Politico reporters that, “Do you understand the irony of using hempcrete to keep out marijuana?” That got us wondering: could there be a hempcrete border wall? Some analysts say that it could be possible, in theory.

“One million acres of hemp builds Trump’s wall and $700 million buys the hemp, a pittance compared to overall construction estimates ranging from $15 billion to $70 billion,” wrote Chris Bennett in reporting for Ag Web Farm Journal.

$700 million would be a huge boon for cannabusiness — that is if supply could keep up with demand. US Farmers have only grown a little under 130,000 acres of hemp this year. For a hempcrete wall to be even slightly feasible, farmers would have to massively step up supply OR import the crop from overseas. That doesn’t gel well with Trump and Bannon’s trade agenda, does it? Plus, the price point, while much better than non-hempcrete construction estimates, is still much more than the 22 million managed to raise during Bannon’s GoFundMe effort this year.

Looks like without funding assistance from the feds and an incentive for farmers to grow more hemp, hempcrete border wall is just another pipe dream.

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Business News

Chick-fil-a stops donating to anti-LGBTQ orgs; can we eat hate nuggets now!?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Boycotts, protests, and media coverage about the controversy may finally be making an impact as the company attempts to alter its reputation.

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After years of controversy for its anti-LGBTQ policies and donations, Chick-Fil-A announced Monday that it would stop funding three faith-based organizations similarly known for their anti-LGBTQ activities. The chicken sandwich empire has donated millions to The Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Paul Anderson Youth Home, but from 2020 going forward, the chain will cease donations to these organizations.

Controversy over Chick-fil-A’s ethos exploded in 2012 when a Pennsylvania Chick-fil-A sponsored a Christian seminar promoting “traditional” marriage, and its CEO Dan Cathy made public comments opposing same-sex marriage. While these events brought Chick-fil-A’s homophobic politics to light, the chain had already, for years prior, been donating millions of dollars to organizations that either discriminate against or work explicitly to curtail the rights of LGBTQ people.

Some queers put down their sandwiches and joined a national boycott and protests, while others found tongue-in-cheek ways to process feeling guilty for continuing to enjoy waffle fries. At first the boycott backfired, with Governor Mike Huckabee hosting a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, encouraging conservative chicken lovers to show up en masse to support the chain and deliver a proverbial middle finger to the LGBT community by ordering extra nuggets.

However, the boycotts, protests, and media coverage about the controversy may finally be making an impact as the company attempts to alter its reputation. Chick-fil-A president, Tim Tassopoulos noted that there have been numerous news stories about the chain’s politics, explaining that “as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are.” Attempts to expand into Europe hit a major setback when one of its two UK locations closed because the shopping center in which it was located took offense to Chick-fil-A’s anti-LGBTQ stance and decided not to renew the lease.

A spokeswoman told the Thomas Reuters Foundation that the company had fulfilled the “multi-year commitments” it made to Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and that now that their “obligations” were complete, they would focus their charitable giving elsewhere.

Future donations will go toward charities that focus on education and homelessness, such as Junior Achievement USA and Covenant House. Grants will be distributed and reviewed annually. LGBTQ activists are optimistic, but slightly skeptical of the change. GLAAD director of campaign and rapid response Drew Anderson called for “further transparency” regarding Chick-fil-A’s “deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families.”

Anderson further pointed out that Chick-fil-A has no non-discrimination policies protecting LGBTQ employees. The chain is also known for asking applicants about their religious and marital status in job interviews, making discrimination against non-Christian and LGBTQ applicants all too easy. Anderson called for Chick-fil-A to “unequivocally speak out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents.”

CEO Dan Cathy has been notoriously unapologetic for his homophobic views, expressing in 2014 that he regretted getting Chick-fil-A embroiled in controversy, but that his opinions about same-sex marriage had not changed.

While many are celebrating the withdrawal of funds towards certain anti-LGBTQ organizations, there’s no guarantee that more donations of this kind won’t be made in the future. So enjoy those hate nuggets with a large grain of salt.

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Business News

Ford rolls out a weird electric SUV that is somehow also a Mustang

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford’s new Mach E is part of their big electric push, and their plan to get you in one is to appeal to the American dream of a mustang.

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What do you get when you cross a Mustang, Tesla and SUV? A traffic accident!

(Just kidding, bad joke; it’s the 2021 Ford Mach E, one of Ford’s 22 upcoming electric or hybrid vehicles. )

Since when has Ford been pushing for electric cars? Actually, it’s been a while, but Ford’s efforts have definitely increased since Jim Hackett took over as CEO of Ford Motors in 2017.

Hackett revitalized Ford’s mission and began pushing for a greater focus on electric and hybrid cars. In fact, Hackett even created an internal team – Team Edison – which oversaw the development of electric cars. The Ford Mach E is actually the first car to be unveiled.

One down, 21 to go.

Sure, the name Ford Mach E is pretty cool, but how cool can a sports car/SUV hybrid really be? It’s the first non-sports car to use the Mustang name, which is a bold move. Luckily, the Ford Mach E is slated to go 0 – 60 in under four seconds, which means it can keep up with other Mustangs and even go faster than some Porches. It also boasts around a 459 horsepower, which is higher than most SUVs on the market. Not half bad for an electric SUV.

Along with the battery – which will be able to last anywhere from 200 to 300 miles, depending on the unit – the Mach E is chock full of exciting new tech. For instance, it’ll boast hands-free driving assist technology comparable to Tesla’s.

It also includes a sleek interior, a large center screen and Ford’s new SYNC system, which will adjust entertainment customizations based on user preference.

This cloud-based system learns from drivers’ habits: if a driver typically stop for coffee in the morning, the system might automatically suggest routes to a coffee shop.

Kind of creepy, but also pretty neat.

The car is projected to hit the market in late 2020 and will be competing with other electric models from Tesla and Volkswagen.

Prices for the Ford Mach E will range from $43,000 to about $60,000, which is fairly comparable to other companies. With a $500 refundable deposit through the Ford website, individuals can place a reservation on one of these upcoming cars now.

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