Owner of Nutra-Planet, Sam Hong, is a respected, hardworking man that gave me advice that will be very useful in the future. Nutra-Planet is an online supplement store that has been growingly rapidly the past few years. I met with Mr. Hong for about twenty minutes, and discussed things such as: the education needed to work in his business, his job setting, required skills, and many other things.
I chose Mr. Hong because I have been a customer with his business for a few years, and his warehouse/office is in my home town. He was a very polite man, and he said that he always enjoys the chance to share his knowledge with people. I interviewed him at his main office and I dressed business casual. I really learned an abundance about owning your own business, and it gave me an idea of what I needed to do if I decided to own my own store.
The first question to Mr. Hong was the type of education needed, not just to work there, but to actually have an opportunity to advance. He told me that he is interested in someone who knows both the business aspect and the supplement knowledge aspect of running the business. In order to pursue this path, I would be more successful finding a major supplement chain like his that has opportunities for advancement. My major now is marketing, and he said that will definitely help me in the future. I need to know the business aspects if I want to run day to day operations.
My next question for Mr. Hong was the type of job setting that his business offered. He said that his main goal was to make his customers’ experience a pleasurable one, and that the environment was a major factor in making that successful. From the casual, friendly atmosphere to the layout of the online store and warehouse, all things need to come together to make the customer want to come back, and tell all their friends about it also. This requires a knowledgeable staff that is helpful to everyone, and a friendly personality is as important to him as the experience an employer brings with him.
When I asked Mr. Hong about the skills that were required to be hired in an upper-level position in this business, he told me there were two different avenues to advance through; the business aspect or the customer relations aspects. He said that it is crucial for his employees to work well with other employees, and be able to take criticism and advice. Although I am majoring in business, I would still love to work hands on with customers. Aside from the obvious skills of knowing about supplements, Jay said the single most important skill he looks for is “people” skills. The personality to interact with others and assure them that you know what you are talking about when it comes to supplements.
The interview with Mr. Hong went very well, and he was said that he was happy that he could answer my questions. He emphasized that it is very important to stay in school and make sure that I graduate, because if I ever need any loans or anything it will help out tremendously if I have a good background and a degree. I will make sure that I interview more people in the future because I believe that it is a huge help to talk to someone face to face instead of reading stuff online.
As a future job seeker, from time to time it’s helpful to get advice and feedback rather than acceptance or rejection.
How? The informational interview, of course!
During an informational interview, you’re able to ask for career, industry and job search advice from a given professional within the field.
Such interviews will be useful throughout your career and can even help with networking for a position – but, don’t go into an informational interview as a ruse to campaign for a job. If networking opportunities arise, take them but, keep in mind, that it’s not the point of the informational interview.
The point is to gain more information on starting out in a given field. It also gives you experience talking to people within a professional setting.
Basically, it’s an interview to help you gain a better understanding your chosen field and omits the stress and pressure.
Get the most out of an informational interview by following these etiquette tips:
Asking for an Informational Interview
Contact a professional who has a job you’d consider a success within your given field.
Remember, it’s still business even though it’s less formal, so dress in business attire and make an appointment, if possible.
Explain that you’d like an appointment to discuss careers within the field and gain career insight. Also, let them know that you’ve chosen them in particular because you consider them a success within your field. (Flattery often gets your foot in the door, so to speak.)
What to Talk About During an Informational Interview
Here are some examples of questions to ask and topics to discuss during an informational interview:
1. What type of degree or educational program do hiring managers look for?
2. What types of courses do you find most valuable to learning the trade?
3. How much work and/or internship experience do you recommend?
4. How did you obtain work experience?
5. What’s the best way to break into the field?
6. Is an advanced degree necessary?
7. What types of skills do you consider most important for this type of job?
8. What is your job title? What are other job titles associated with this type of position?
9. What is the salary range for the field?
10. Would you consider this a growing field?
11. Where would you typically look for employment opportunities?
12. Can you suggest anyone else you think it might be helpful for me to talk to?
Some other discussion topics and notes regarding informational interviews:
These questions are just guidelines – the interview is your opportunity to pick the person’s brain about your general curiosities.
Note that many informational interview questions are questions that would typically not be appropriate in a traditional interview setting.
Ask the person how they got to where they are and how they’d best recommend someone proceed when starting out in the field.
Remember, it’s flattering that you’ve asked them for guidance so they will be more than likely to oblige.
It’s also important to note that they are taking time out of their day to help you, so be very open to accommodating to their schedule. Offer to buy them coffee or lunch at their convenience.
Bring along your resume and cover letter to have the person you’re interviewing with give you guidance or feedback for improvement strategies.
Feel free to take notes during the interview – it also demonstrates that you take their advice seriously and want to remember it for the future.
Since a professional took time out to help you, it’s always appropriate to follow up with a thank you note. Share what you found most valuable during the interview, referencing examples.
While it’s acceptable to send a thank-you via email, it’s almost always better to send a personal thank-you note through traditional post.
You can also share your information in case he or she has any more advice, opportunities or contacts to share with you in the future.
Keep in mind that, the better terms you are on with someone, the more likely they are to assist in your future job search!
Have you ever been on an informational interview? What did you find most helpful?
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