Informational Interviewing

The best source of career information comes from conversations with professionals in the field.

What is informational interviewing?

It’s just a fancy way to describe connecting one-on-one with a professional to have an informal conversation about their career. This is a common practice that allows you to meet with people who are currently employed in a career, organization, or industry you are considering. You can, and should, rely on informational interviews as a powerful tool throughout your career.

What are the benefits of informational Interviews?

  • Help you decide if a certain career, organization, or industry is right for you
  • Allow you to gain valuable advice on how to tailor your resume, CV or cover letter to fit organization/industry standards
  • Prepare you for an interview in the organization/industry
  • Build relationships with professionals

Remember an informational interview is not the same as a job interview. You will not ask for a job, but instead request information about the kind of skills, experience and education that are valued in that field or company. It’s also important to request informational interviews before a position in your area of interest becomes vacant. Managers or supervisors may feel uneasy about granting you an informational interview if the organization is actively recruiting for the position.

How do I prepare for an informational interview?

Much like a job interview, informational interviews require preparation: Research the industry, organization, and person you’re meeting with. Plan a handful of questions you’d like to ask. If you’re not sure what to ask, check out our “sample questions to ask” below.

For your meeting, dress as you would for an actual job interview and plan to arrive a few minutes early if meeting in person.  If meeting virtually, be sure to test your technology and make sure you have a quiet spot and professional background.

How do I find people to informational interview?

  • Start with who you know! Talk with your friends, relatives, fellow learners, alumni, professors, co-workers, former co-workers or neighbors. Ask if they know anyone working in the industry you’re considering.
  • Get involved in relevant professional associations, where you can meet many industry professionals.
  • Search LinkedIn where you can use the alumni tool and filters to search for particular job titles or organizations and connect with people through the platform.

Review the resources highlighted below for examples of how to request an informational interview.

What do I talk about in an informational interview?

Since you asked for this meeting, you will “lead” the meeting. Begin by thanking them for taking the time to meet with you. Give a brief overview of your background and what areas you are exploring, and then start asking your questions.

Use our Sample Questions guides, highlighted below, to help you think about what types of questions to ask. Keep in mind you won’t have time to ask all these questions in 30 minutes or less, so consider what would be most helpful for you. Adjust your questions based on your situation, experience level, and career goals.

At the end, don’t forget to ask if there is anyone else they would recommend you speak to – this is a great way to find more connections.

What do I do after the informational interview?

After an informational interview, you should always send a thank you note.  It is polite and professional to show gratitude to someone for the time they spent with you.

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