The purpose of an informational interview is to expand your network of professional contacts while receiving first-hand information about a career field. The point of the interview is to learn. This is an opportunity to receive valuable information about what the job and/or internship entails as well as information about the industry.
The most intimidating task of an informational interview can be reaching out to contacts. The easiest & least intrusive form of contact is via email. Construct an email to your desired interviewee asking for an opportunity to talk on the phone or in person. Explain how you know them or got their contact information. Give a brief overview of yourself & why you are interested in this industry. Read our networking tips to help you get started.
Before the Interview
- Research the industry through Spotlight on Careers, W&L Industry Pages, LinkedIn or the Vault Guides
- Create a list of questions you may have about the industry and ones specifically tailored to the person you are interviewing. See Handshake for a list of common interview questions and informational interview tips.
- Confirm the time & date with your interviewee in advance
If the interview is over the phone:
- Put away all distractions
- Have a copy of your resume in front of you for easy reference
- Have your list of questions & a pen ready
If the interview is in person:
- Bring a copy of your resume
- Take notes on a notepad thus eliminating distractions
Ask for more industry contact suggestions!
After the Interview
- Send a follow-up email thanking the person for their time
- If appropriate & you have their contact information, send a hand-written note
- Informational interviews are not the starting point of your career research - they are supplemental material
- Be flexible - these people are taking time out of their schedule to help you
- Be gracious - express thanks both at the beginning and end of the conversation
Not sure what to ask an interviewee? Stop by Career and Professional Development to set up an appointment to speak with a career advisor or make an appointment on Handshake.