What is an informational interview?
In an informational interview, you ask a professional about their real-life experiences, challenges and opportunities, benefits and demands, and opportunities and limitations of a field you're interested in. Learning firsthand from people in careers you're considering can be one of your most valuable resources in finding out what working in an industry, company, or position is really like!
What are the benefits of informational interviewing?
- Gain firsthand, current information from professional in the field(s) you're considering
- Clarify what jobs are a good fit for you and which graduate programs are required (if any) before you commit yourself
- Learn about salary ranges, typical career paths, how specific organizations find new employees, and which companies are hiring
- Build support for your job search by expanding your network of people who can give you insider advice and provide you with non-advertised job leads
What kinds of questions should I ask in an informational interview?
Ask the professional about every aspect of their career you are curious about - this may include their job duties and responsibilities, the organization they work for, the field they work in, and how you can be a marketable candidate for their career path. These questions may include:
- What qualifications do I need to gain an entry-level position in your career field? What are the salary ranges?
- What are the characteristics and skills of successful people in this career or organization?
- Do you belong to or know of any professional organizations that you recommend I join as a student?
- What experience and skillset do you suggest I pursue to be a strong candidate in this field?
- What is a typical day like on the job for you? What do you enjoy most/least about your current work?
For a more detailed list of questions to ask, check out our Informational Interview Guide at the Career Center.
Steps to successful informational interviewing:
1. Develop your contact list. Identify professionals in your career field of interest through related professional organizations, people you already know, or alumni through the Career Center's Career Advice Network (CAN).
2. Ask for the interview. Briefly introduce yourself by calling or emailing the professional you'd like to interview and explain to them that you would like to speak for 10-15 minutes to discuss their career path, job responsibilities, and your questions for them. For more detailed information on how to ask for an informational interview, see our Informational Interview Guide at the Career Center.
3. Prepare in advance. Research the company and the individual, prepare insightful questions for them in advance, and be prepared to talk about your interest in their field of work and your strengths and skills.
4. Conduct an effective meeting. Get as much information as you can in your short time together and take thorough notes during the interview. Describe your interests in a clear, concise manner.
5. Follow up. Send the professional a brief thank you email promptly right after your informational interview - thoughtful people tend to be remembered.
6. Keep track of your contacts. Keep their contact information for future reference - the network you build will be valuable throughout your professional life!