Using Informational Interviews

Whether you find yourself in the position of identifying your career path or locating a position within your identified field of choice, it is important that you investigate the job market for employment trends and marketplace needs. 

An effective method of gaining information is through informational interviews. In this interview, you ask the professional questions about their own personal experience and gain advice about your career. The informational interview is an effective method of collecting information about your field and it provides an opportunity to develop a network of contacts.

Keys to Success

  • Identify people to meet, don’t be limited to just family and friends. Ask faculty members, neighbors, professional association members, church and community association connections or feel free to call the HR department of a company you are interested in for suggestions.
  • Bring a notebook to take notes.
  • Make a good first impression and establish your credibility by dressing professionally.
  • Read about your contact’s company and industry so they feel you are seriously interested and so you will get the most out of your meeting. 
  • Once you have developed a relationship, ask for referrals. When you present your interests and needs in a concise and specific way, your contact will feel more confident in referring you to colleagues for similar informational meetings.
  • Bring a copy of your resume along in case they offer to share it with their network of contacts.
  • Send a thank you note, which can be typed or handwritten on quality paper, within 48 hours of your meeting.

Questions You Might Ask During an Informational Interview

What do you do on a typical day in your job?

What kinds of projects do you work on? 

What are the responsibilities/duties?

How would you describe the demands of your position with respect to time involved per week, pressures, job complexity and interaction with people?

What do you like best about your job?

What characteristics of this job cause the most frustration or dissatisfaction?

What kind of personal characteristics/attributes are needed to succeed in this field?

What qualifications are needed?

Can people specialize in this occupation? If so, what are the areas of specialization?

What kinds of changes are taking place in this type of work?

Has your occupation changed you as a person?

What were the primary factors that led you to this occupation?

What is the career potential in this field?

Will there be good future opportunities? 

What are typical career paths in this field?

What kinds of organizations do ______ work in?

Who are the major employers in this field?

What organizations hire entry-level people?

Are there opportunities for a flexible schedule?

What would you estimate as a starting salary for entry-level position in this field?

What kind of experience should I get to make me more marketable to this field?

What advice would you give to a person entering this field?