You may want to talk with several people in one industry to gain different perspectives. You do not want to rely on just one person's perspective to help you make a decision. You may also want to talk with people in different industries to help with making a decision between multiple career paths you are considering.
Informational interviewing is a form of
networking. Begin by making a list of everyone you know, including friends, friends of friends, your parent's friends, classmates, etc. You may find a connection through someone you already know. If you are not able to identify someone through your existing network, you may have to reach out to people who you do not know. Keep in mind, most people enjoy helping college students and enjoy talking about what they do, so don't be afraid to ask.
Set up a 15- to 30-minute interview with the person identified at least one week in advance. If they are unable to meet in person, a phone conversation is the next best option.
Select questions ahead of time. Be sure to be respectful of the timeframe established, do not go over your allotted time. See sample interview questions below.
Be prepared to answer questions about yourself
Have a short personal statement (also known as an
elevator pitch) prepared that you can present if you're asked about your career search. Also be prepared to talk about two or three of your strengths and skills. Bring a resume, but don't offer it unless requested.
Although an Informational Interview is not about getting hired, treat the meeting like a
job interview. Dress appropriately for the occasion.
- Be on time
- Research the organization
- Turn off your cell phone
- Take notes
- Be mindful of the time
networking process. Ask to connect with the person on
LinkedIn and for a business card at the end of the interview. If possible, ask for other contacts in the field.
Send a thank you letter or email. Thank the person at the conclusion of the interview, but also send a letter/email stating your gratitude for the time given. The letter should be written in a professional tone, do not use casual language or texting language.
Below are sample questions you may want to ask during your Informational Interview. Choose the appropriate number of questions based on how much time you have allotted for the interview.
- How did you get started in this field? Tell me about your career path.
- What is your job like?
- What does a typical day at work look like?
- What do you do? What are the duties/functions/responsibilities of your job?
- What percentage of your time is spent doing what?
- How does the time use vary? Are there busy and slow times or is the work activity fairly constant? What jobs and experiences have led you to your present position?
- What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying?
- What part of this job do you personally find most challenging?
- What kinds of problems do you deal with?
- What kinds of decisions do you make?
- What do you like and not like about working in this industry?
- What things did you do before you entered this occupation?
- Which have been most helpful?
- Can you suggest some ways a student could obtain this necessary experience?
- What sorts of changes are occurring in your occupation?
- How does a person progress in your field? What is a typical career path in this field or organization?
- What is the best way to enter this occupation?
- What are the advancement opportunities?
- What are the major qualifications for success in this occupation?
- What are the skills that are most important for a position in this field?
- What particular skills or talents are most essential to be effective in your job?
- What are the educational, requirements for this job? What other types of credentials or licenses are required?
- How important are grades/GPA for obtaining a job in this field?
- Do you have any advice for someone interested in this field/job?
- Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?
- What kinds of experience, paid or unpaid, would you encourage for anybody pursuing a career in this field?
- What special advice do you have for a student seeking to qualify for this position?