Purpose of an Informational Interview
The informational Interview is one of the most underutilized tools for job seekers and should be a key component of your job search. It is an opportunity to meet with a professional in your chosen field and ask them questions about their career, industry, current position and experiences.
Keep in mind that this is not a job interview or your chance to ask for employment; the goal is to gather information for your job search and create a networking contact for the future. It is different than a traditional interview because you are asking the questions, so it is important to be prepared.
Carefully worded questions are the key to a successful Informational Interview. Here are a few suggestions:
• What has been your career path?
• What is your educational background? How have you applied it to your current position?
• What do you enjoy most about your position? What do you enjoy the least?
• What skills does it take to be successful in this field?
• What are some of the challenges for new professionals in this field?
• What is a typical day like in your position?
• What is it like working for your current employer? How does it compare to past employers?
• What are some of the industry trends you have observed?
• Are there other individuals that your would recommend I talk with?
Who to Contact
You should seek to interview individuals who are in positions or working for companies or industries that you are interested in learning more about. Start by asking for referrals from family, friends, classmates, or instructors. Utilize websites of employers to find individuals you could contact. Look for professional associations linked to your field and contact leaders or mentors within the organization. Finding someone to interview may take time, but all you need is one good contact to get the process started.
How to Contact
You will need to initiate the Informational Interview. This should preferably be done by phone or face-to-face, but email is also appropriate. Let the individual know who you are, what you are seeking and ask to meet with them briefly to get advice and insight on their professional experience. Be prepared to share your resume, both for feedback, but also for them to have for reference (in case they have any positions open up or they can refer it on).
Follow up is very important in order to maintain the professional relationship you have started. Always ask for a business card. Send a thank you note to let them know you appreciate their time and insight. Follow up after you make any decisions or accept a position and let them know of your plans to stay in touch. The networks you build through your informational interview can be a valuable resource for the job search and beyond.