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The Informational Interview for Career Exploration

These workshops have been designed with you in mind to help you obtain a satisfying career. It is expected that they will help you to be more comfortable by being more skilled and knowledgeable during the job-seeking process. If you have any additional questions after reviewing this website, feel free to email me at any time...

Best Wishes in your new career!

Informational Interview Guidelines

Table of Contents

What is an Informational Interview?

An informational interview is a meeting that your arrange with someone knowledgeable in a career field or industry. For example, you might interview someone doing the job you would like to do, such as butcher, baker, or candlestick maker. These meetings will help you see what is right for you. Informational interviews can help you with many career decisions, such as choosing a major/career, identifying specific jobs of interest, or deciding to work for a specific company. Informational interviews differ from employment interviews, and their objectives differ.

The Objectives of Informational Interviews

  1. Obtain information about prospective careers, jobs, industries, or companies to narrow (or broaden) your career exploration or job search.
  2. Learn about professional or trade organizations in your chosen career or industry.
  3. Make contacts and build your network. Be genuine and interested. Let them know who you are.
  4. Obtain names of others to interview, for information or employment.
  5. Build your marketability and confidence for the job search.

It is important that you not treat informational interviews like employment interviews. People are generally happy to share information with a potential newcomer to their industry or profession, but will feel pressured if you turn the interview into a request for a job. However, if someone asks for a resume you may want to have one with you. You may want them to critique your resume and the relevance of your skills to jobs in their field. Set up another time if it appears that the interview is becoming an employment interview. Make sure you are meeting your goals of exploring careers, jobs, industries, or companies before you begin employment interviewing or commit to specific jobs.

You may encounter someone who is too busy or who sees you as a potential competitor and will not meet with you. Ask for a referral. Try someone else--some people are born teachers and mentors who may be active in trade, professional, and community organizations and who like to "spread the word." You may also try someone in an allied field or another city where you won't be seen as a competitor.

You can do information interviews by phone as well as in person. In both cases, let the person you are interviewing know who referred you, why you are calling, and how long it will take. The recommended time is 20-30 minutes. Honor the agreed time. You may be able to do an interview on the spot, or you may arrange an appointment for later.

Questions to Ask

Prepare your questions in advance. Suggested questions for each type of information interview are in the next section. Come prepared to take notes. In the interview, spend some time developing rapport before you begin asking questions. Give the person some information about you, your background and interests. Learn something about them. Convey interest and confidence, communicate clearly, and be polite and business-like. Be a good listener. Acknowledge that the information they are providing is important to you.

Informational Interview Checklist

For in-person interviews, dress like you would for an employment interview, arrive on time, smile, and give a firm handshake. After the interview send a written thank you, handwritten, typed, or emailed. The people you interview become part of your growing network. Tell them about the outcome of actions they recommended or referrals they made. Share interesting articles or information (non-proprietary) with them. Keep a log of contacts and outcomes for all of your interviews.