informational interview is an interview that you initiate with someone in a
job, organization, or career of interest to you. You are the interviewer, rather than the
interviewee. The purpose is to obtain information, not to
get a job.
interviews can help individuals with several aspects of career development and
job search, including the following areas:
- Exploring careers and
clarifying career goals
- Practicing interview
- Practicing networking
- Expanding a professional network
- Accessing first-hand information about a
particular job, industry, or employer
- Providing an
opportunity to favorably impress someone in your field of interest
- Increasing your self
confidence related to talking to employers
Steps for Arranging an Informational Interview
Identify the Occupation or Industry You Wish
to Learn About: Assess your own
interests, abilities, values, and skills. Research salary and job market
information; compile information about the fields in which you are interested.
Prepare for the Interview: Read all you can about the field prior to the
interview. Decide what information you would like to obtain about the
occupation/industry. Prepare a list of questions that you would like to have
answered (see suggestions below). Do not waste
the person’s time by asking questions you could have found the answers to elsewhere
Identify People to Interview: Start with lists of people you already know -
friends, relatives, fellow students, present or former co-workers, supervisors,
neighbors. Professional organizations, the yellow pages, organizational
directories, alumni from your college, and public speakers are also good
resources. You may also call an organization and ask for the name of the person
by job title. Essentially, anyone who
works in a career you are interested in, works in an environment that appeals to
you, or works in a specific job you are curious about is an appropriate
person. It’s generally advisable to
select someone with at least a few years of experience in the field.
Contact the person to set up an interview: Make a telephone call, send a letter and follow-up with a phone call, or
talk to an acquaintance about setting up an appointment for you. Be specific about how much time you are
asking for. Know that the person has the
right to deny your request for the interview.
To minimize such denials, be sure to clarify that your purpose is to
gather information, not to solicit a job.
Then be sure to adhere to the time limitation and purpose.
Conduct the Interview: Dress appropriately (at least business
casual), arrive on time, be polite and professional. Be prepared. Refer to your list of prepared questions;
stay on track, but allow for spontaneous discussion. Before leaving, consider
asking your contact to suggest names of at least 2 others who might be helpful
to you and ask permission to use your contact's name when contacting these new
Follow Up: Immediately following the interview, record the information
gathered. Be sure to send a thank-you note to your contact within one week of
the interview. Then, analyze the
information you've gathered. Adjust your job search, resume, and career
objective if necessary.
Prepare a list of your own questions for your
informational interview. Following are some sample questions:
a typical day in this position, what do you do?
training or education is required/recommended for this type of work?
personal qualities or abilities do you think are important to being successful
in this job?
part of this job do you find most satisfying? most challenging?
did you get into this line of work?
opportunities for advancement are there in this field?
entry level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
are the salary ranges for various levels in this field?
do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?
there a demand for people in this occupation?
are some of the trends affecting this field?
would you describe your approach to career development in this field?
are some aspects of this type of work that is often not recognized by people not
special advice would you give a person entering this field?
types of training do companies offer persons entering this field?
are the basic prerequisites for jobs in this field?
What types of educational experiences would benefit someone entering this field?
do you believe employers are looking for in new professionals entering this
professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this
do you think of the experience I've had so far in terms of entering this field?
your perspective, what are the problems you see working in this field?
you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for
yourself? Why? What would you change?
Is there someone else I should talk to in order to gather more information about this field? When I call him/her, may I use your