Business communication – informational interview

Interview a person who currently holds a career that you would like to hold within about three to five years after graduation. (Maybe you’d like to be the CEO of Disney, but I’m talking about a career position that you could reasonably expect to hold within that time frame.) The interview should last around 45 minutes. The objectives of this assignment are: 

1.            To give you insight into the position. 

2.            To develop your interviewing and self-presentation skills. 

3.            To gain experience writing an executive summary. 

This is not an employment interview; so do not ask for a job. Present yourself as a student conducting research regarding future career possibilities. This should be a face-to-face OR online interview, preferably in your subject’s workplace. If the only person who has your dream job is in NY, go for something comparable to your dream job. 

Please follow these steps for this assignment: 

1.            Conduct your own research regarding a career and potential companies that interest you. Gather basic information such as a job description, salary, level and type of education required for the position, and specific information regarding the company of interest. Use this information to formulate interview questions. Write up the information you’ve gathered in an annotated bibliography to be turned in to me along with your executive summary. You should use a minimum of three sources, such as newspaper articles, industry blogs, and company web sites. Do note, however, that any information from a company website counts as one source, regardless of how many links within it you’ve clicked. 

2.            Contact an individual in the position of your choice and ask if they could give you about 45 minutes of their time. Do not interview someone you already know (relatives, friends and their companies are not acceptable for this assignment; do not interview someone in a place you’ve already worked yourself). If your mother’s best friend owns her own public relations company and you’ve never had the chance to ask her about it, you’ll definitely want to talk with her sometime—just not for this assignment. 

3.            Formulate your interview questions (check Google for ideas) and re-confirm your interview two days before by telephone or email.

4.            During the interview, behave professionally. Dress appropriately, in business attire (as appropriate for the industry) if in-person, if online, speak clearly, audibly and ensure that your camera is functioning properly. Introduce yourself, your purpose and your goals for the interview (“My goal for this interview is to learn what it’s like to work in such a position and what the requirements are to be hired in a job like yours”). Explain that you have a number of questions to ask and that you would like to take notes, if the interviewee does not object. Listen carefully, paraphrase responses, and ask for clarification when you do not understand. After finishing your questions, ask your interviewee if there is anything else they would like to tell you. Be conscious of the time you’ve used and do not go over, unless they indicate they wish to continue. Thank them for their time. 

5.            Get the interviewee’s business card or e-contact information before you leave the interview so you can include it when you hand in your assignment. (If the person does not have a business card, ask for an appropriate substitute, such as a piece of company letterhead.) 

6.            As soon as possible after the interview, write a thank-you note and mail or email it to your interviewee. Be sure this brief letter is grammatically correct and error free! In your letter, do not use the clichéd phrase, “Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule.” 

7.            Write a two-page executive summary about your interview. This report is a professional document in style and content which includes summaries on the following topics: 

a.  Description of the industry/product/service 

b.  Description of the position 

c.  Requirements for the position (education, experience, skills) 

d.  General summary of what you learned, including your own thoughts and reactions 

e.  Attach your annotated bibliography to the executive summary. 

7. Be prepared to give a brief informative presentation regarding your interview. Your total “Interview Package” will consist of: 

•  5 to 10 slides and should include extensive notes for each slide.

•  Executive Summary (in memo format, addressed to me, Darren Hurst). 

•  Photocopy/Email copy of your thank-you note. 

•  Photocopy/Ecopy of the business card of your interviewee (if they do not have a business card, please get a piece of letterhead or a brochure at the very least). 

•  Annotated bibliography from your pre-interview research in proper reference format (APA style). 

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