An informational interview is a personal exchange geared toward learning about a specific career, industry, or position. It will build your network, and give you an insider's view of a career.
Plan Your Objective
Focus on your desire to develop your career path and plan your strategy according to the job titles, companies, and industries that you'd like to explore.
Scout for Targets
Professional acquaintances, family, and friends; Check with the Career Center and/or Professional Associations; or do a job or company search on LinkedIn.
Pop the Question
People love to talk about what they do, and as long as you show that you're genuinely interested in how they got where they are, you should be successful.
Email is the least intrusive way to pose your question.
- Start by letting the person know why you've contacted them
- Give a little background and say why you would value a meeting--but don't make it as formal or as long as a cover letter, and don't include your resume
- End by giving a few dates and times you're available
- Research the same way you would for a job interview.
- Make sure to prepare enough questions to pass the time, because you're the one leading the conversation.
- If you're meeting face to face, dress appropriately for the location and for a potential employer.
- It's okay to bring your resume, but keep it hidden unless you're asked to share it.
Lead the Interview
The most important part of the interview is asking the right questions. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- What lured you to this industry?
- What training did you need?
- What is your typical workday like?
- What do you like most about your work, and what do you like least?
- Do you have any recommendations for someone just starting out?
- Are there other people you'd recommend speaking with? (This is particularly important because it will build your professional network.)
Your final move should be an email to thank the person for providing their time. Keep the door open for future correspondence by asking if it's okay to keep in touch.