Informational Interview Tips
Why should I conduct an information interview?
- Opportunity to gather first-hand information (research) about career fields you are considering and expand your network of professional contacts.
- You will receive frank advice about a profession or industry and subtle signals about work environments that you will never read in a book.
- Get valuable information about what the job entails. However, this interview is not about obtaining a job; the point is to learn something.
What are the steps I should take?
Locate Someone to Interview
Use alumni, family, friends, professors and advisors, professional organizations, the numerous job and internship databases available in Career Development. Get correct spelling and pronunciation of contact's name and be sure of contact's job title and salutation (Dr., Mr., Mrs., etc).
- ** If you are currently interning, you may want to ask your supervisor for permission to conduct an informational interview. After you have started forging your own personal relationships within the organization, you will also acquire a sense of the individuals you would like to interview. **
Call for appointment or write a letter to request an appointment. Be sure to state the reason you are contacting them, how much time you are asking of them (20-30 minutes at most), why you would like to speak with them in particular (your interest in his or her career field), and how you received their contact information. You can also request a telephone interview (if the person does not live nearby) or an observational visit that lasts a few hours or a full day.
Be prepared to adjust your schedule. Suggest lunch, coffee break, etc. (It should be about what is convenient for the interviewee, not you.)
Be sure you have agreed on the date and place of your meeting. A brief note of confirmation can serve as a helpful reminder to you both.
Research and read about the career field before the informational interview.
- Informational Interviews should not be a starting point for your career research - they should supplement what you have already learned. Also research your contact's place of work/company/ organization.
Prepare a list of relevant questions (see Alumni Advice on the Spotlight on Careers pages for examples). Prepare your resume and take a copy with you in case you are asked for it - but be aware that it may be inappropriate to offer it during your meeting.
- NOTE: Let the interviewee determine the formality of the conversation.
Appearance and Arrival
Plan what you will wear and how long it will take you to get there. Arrive 10-15 minutes early. This may give you a little extra interview time.
Ask for a business card before you leave and send a short note thanking the person for his/her time. Be prompt about sending the card. Remember, these contacts can continue to serve as resources throughout your career.
Not sure what to ask an interviewee? Stop by Career Development during Quick Question hours or set up an appointment to speak with a Career Advisor.