Informational interviewing is a method of career exploration and a way of discovering jobs not publicly advertised. It is not the same as a job interview. Informational interviewing allows you to talk with people already in the industry you have targeted. By obtaining informational interviews, you have gained access to the “inside information” regarding career paths, alternate careers that will use your skills and people to contact who may be looking for an employee like you. It is an effective technique because it allows you to:
- investigate a specific career field
- narrow or expand your options
- obtain advice on where skills might be applied
- broaden network contacts for future reference
- learn about important issues in a career field
- build confidence for actual job interviews
- expand your job market information
- discover jobs/career paths that you didn’t know existed
- deepen your understanding of the world of work in a variety of settings
Making Contact for Informational Interviews:
- You can meet contacts for informational interviews in a variety of ways. Take business cards from guest speakers that visit your classes, attend career fairs, search company websites, search HireTopDogs (formerly BulldogLink) employer information, contact Alumni Services, and/or utilize contacts from friends and family.
- You may want to email this person first to introduce yourself and let them know of your request for an informational interview, but let them know that you will follow up with a phone call in a few days.
- If calling, ask if he/she is free to talk at the moment. If free, explain you are looking for information only, not a job. If not free, ask for a convenient time to call back.
- State how you got his/her name (who referred you).
- State reason for contact (“I have decided to go into X field and would like your feedback on my resume/career goals/job search techniques, etc.”).
- Ask for his/her help or for the name of another person who could help you. If he/she agrees to help, set up an informational interview.
- Send thank you letters to contacts, whether the information was of use to you or not.
Questions to Ask in Informational Interviews:
- How do most people get into this field?
- How did you become interested in X?
- What do you think is the best educational preparation for a career in X?
- Which part of the job is most challenging to you?
- Do you think there is/will be growth in this field?
- What personal attributes do you think are essential to success in X field?
- What qualifications would you look for in hiring someone for X position?
- What would you do differently in getting into this job/field?
What are the biggest challenges?
- How does your company compare to others?
- Are there other related fields/jobs I should be considering?
- Who else should I talk to? May I use your name?