Preparing for an Informational Interview
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Who Can I Contact? Students will often conduct informational interviews with friends of the family, alumnae/i of the college, faculty and staff members at the college, people in the community, a previous employer, a friend’s parent, etc. Action Step: Take a few minutes to identify people who have jobs or careers that are of interest to you. Don’t feel restricted to limiting your contacts to a geographic area (like home), because the interviews can take place in-person or by phone. Usually people are both open and eager to share a bit about their own career path.
How Do I Connect? You can first connect with a contact by phone, letter, or e-mail. You will want to introduce yourself, share why you are connecting, and ask for 30 minutes to conduct the interview. At this point, do not include a copy of your resume with any correspondence.
When the person says that her or she would be happy to speak with you, then consider sending a list of questions that you would like to ask. You probably won’t get to all of the questions.
What Will I Ask? Maybe you want to know what career path your informational interview contact followed, or in what he or she majored? Think about what would be most valuable for you to know in order to shape your direction or next steps. See sample informational interview questions...
Take time to use on-line and/or print resources to research the organization at which your informational interview contact works; and to learn general information about the career field.
Never ask for a job during the informational interview, because the purpose of the interview is for you to gather information and to reflect upon it.
If it seems appropriate, and you are still interested in this career field after meeting with your contact, then consider asking if the person would have a few minutes to take a quick look at your resume to share any recommendations for strengthening it. At the end of the informational interview thank your contact for meeting with you and obtain or confirm their address and job title.
Send a thank you note to your informational interview contact and mention something you learned during the conversation or share a piece of information that was especially helpful to you.
You might also let your contact know that you will keep him or her up-to-date on any new academic and professional developments in your life. By keeping in-touch with your contacts, you can then call upon them for future advice and career exploration assistance. They will likely be interested to see your progress and to even assist you along the way.
Take time to reflect on what you learned during the informational interview. Consider organizing your notes or thoughts around the following prompts – you may want to revisit what you learned a month or a year from now:
- What did I learn about the job?
- What did I learn about the larger career field?
- What did I learn about the company?
- What did I learn about the skills and competencies needed to pursue this career or job?
- What are some next steps that I might take to gain more experience and/or information?