What is an Informational Interview?
The purpose of an informational interview is to get information about a
field of work from someone who has some firsthand knowledge. When you
are on an informational interview you should not ask for a job. This is
not to say that an informational interview cannot lead to a job. In
addition to helping you learn about a particular career, the
informational interview is a way to start building a network. The person
who is the subject of your informational interview today, may be the
first person in your network many tomorrows from now. Here's another way
an informational interview can benefit you. For those of us who are a
little skittish about going on a job interview, the informational
interview provides an non-threatening forum in which to get some
practice. Think of it as a dress rehearsal. Click
here for questions to ask.
Who Should You Interview?
Here's how I see it. You need information. Someone has that information.
Anyone is fair game as long as that person is knowledgeable about the
field in which you are interested. Ask friends, relatives, fellow
students, your teachers, and neighbors if they know someone who works in
your targeted field. People love to talk about themselves and what they
do. Call someone you read about who has your "dream job." Call your
alumni association. When I first thought about becoming a librarian, I
contacted an employment agency that specialized in that area. I was able
to get an interview with one of the agency's founders, herself a
librarian. She was able to tell me about the job itself, and because of
her unique position as a placement counselor, she was able to tell me
about the outlook for the field.
What You Need to Know Before the Interview
Just as you need to prepare for a job interview, preparation for an
informational interview is very important. As my friend did, searching
for information on the occupation is step one. She felt she needed to
know as much about her targeted career in order to ask intelligent
When you go on a job interview it is wise to learn as much about the
potential employer and the interviewer as you can. When you go on an
informational interview you should do the same type of research. As
mentioned above, people love to talk about themselves. People also love
to hear about themselves (the good things of course!). If your
interviewee was referred to you by someone, ask that person about him or
her. Also, see what you can find out by looking in local business
journals and industry publications. For example, was the interviewee
recently promoted or did he or she receive some special recognition?
Research that person's employer as well. You will be prepared for the
interview and therefore make a good impression.
here for questions to ask
As previously mentioned, you should research your career of interest in
order to ask intelligent questions. Was there something mentioned in the
occupational information you didn't fully understand? The informational
interview is a good forum to get that clarified. Here is a small
sampling of questions you should ask:
Describe a typical day at work:
- How many hours do you normally work in a week?
- What do you see as the potential for growth in this field?
- What can I do now to help me find employment in this field?
The Big Day
You've done your homework and can walk into the informational interview
confident that you will make a good impression and get the information
that will help you make a wise decision. Don't forget to dress
appropriately. Arrive on time, keep the interview to the scheduled
length, and remember proper etiquette.
Speaking of proper etiquette, please remember to send a thank you note
to show your appreciation. The interviewee has taken time out of what is
probably a very busy schedule to help you.