An informational interview is a meeting with a contact who can help you learn more about a career, an industry, or even a specific organization. You can get a firsthand account to determine if the career might be a good fit for you.
Steps to obtain an informational interview
- Ask your contacts (including your Career Consultant) if they can introduce you to someone in your targeted profession. You may also be able to identify someone from a staff directory.
- When you contact the person by phone or email, introduce yourself and let them know you are interested in their profession and/or organization.
- Provide a brief statement about yourself (e.g., major, year in school) and let the professional know what you are hoping to achieve in the meeting.
- Ask if they would be willing to meet with you for approximately 30 minutes.
During your informational interview
- Show respect and professionalism by being on time, dressed appropriately.
- Be organized with a list of questions and a notepad.
- Try not to exceed the agreed upon amount of time for the interview.
- Write a thank-you note immediately afterward. If the person you interviewed suggested specific actions, report back to let him or her know the results.
- If you established good rapport with your interviewee, ask if you might maintain contact as you continue through college and begin your job search.
Common interview questions
Once you have arranged an informational interview, you should prepare the questions you would like to ask. The following are examples of common questions.
- On a typical day in this position, what do you do?
- What training or education is required for this type of work?
- What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
- What part of this job do you find most satisfying? Most challenging?
- How did you get your job?
- What opportunities for advancement are there in this field?
- What entry-level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
- How are you evaluated in this position?
- How do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?
- Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?
- What types of decisions do you have to make in this position?
- What suggestions do you have related to preparing my resume for an internship or job in this field?
- What would you like to share with me that I have not asked you?
You can tailor these questions to the industry/profession of the person you are interviewing, and to the types of information you are most interested in learning.
After your informational interview
Reflect on what you learned during the interview and how the information might help you narrow your career focus. Arrange additional interviews and/or shadowing opportunities.