Don’t hesitate to ask a professional for a brief interview to learn more about his/her career path and industry, but don’t expect to land an internship or job. The purpose of an informational interview is to gain information.
Respect time. Always set up an appointment at a convenient time, and, if you ask for 30 minutes, acknowledge when your time has expired. Your interviewee can grant more time if his or her schedule allows.
Have questions ready. See list on page 10 for ideas.
Send a thank-you! Most people are flattered that you are interested in what they do. They will be more likely to help you in the future and feel truly appreciated if you send a thank-you note immediately after your meeting.
Keep in touch. If you develop rapport with someone through an informational interview, inform this person as your career develops. This is the beginning of a network; this person may be a professional colleague in the near future.
Check for other professionals. If your meeting goes well, don’t hesitate to ask, “Is there anyone you would recommend I talk with to learn more?”
Ask for a connection! What is your networking goal? How will you request information? “Hello! I am interested in ________________ and I would like to learn more about _________________. Would you have a few minutes to answer a few questions?” Identify three people who can answer basic questions about your career. This is called an informational interview.
10 Possible Questions
- What kinds of things you do in the course of a day? What are some frequent activities?
- Do you have a formal job description? Would it be possible for me to have a copy?
- What kind of educational or work experience is most helpful for an entry-level position in this field? How about an internship?
- What would you estimate the starting salaries might be for an entry-level position in this field?
- What do you like and dislike about your position?
- What is the best way to find out about job openings?
- What are some of the misconceptions people have?
- If you were to go back through your experiences and change anything in order to be better prepared for this field, what changes would you make?
- Are there other people in this field I should visit?
- What journals, newspapers, etc. should I be reading to keep myself up-to-date in this field?