Information on Conducting Informational Interviews
Do you want to learn more about the career paths that interest you but don’t know how? Gather valuable, industry-specific information from a professional through an information interview.
What is an Informational Interview?
Information interviewing is not interviewing for a job, but rather a way for you to gain valuable insights into your career area of interest, that would otherwise be difficult to find in books or on the internet. The insights you gain will allow you to make more informed decisions, whether you are planning your career or looking for a job.
Why conduct an information interview?
- Get a reality check about what a career actually entails
- Gain insider tips on education, skills, and experience needed
- Learn how to market yourself during job search
- Build contacts and develop knowledge of the industry
For more information, check out our tip sheet on Informational Interviewing.
5 Steps for Conducting an Informational Interview
1. Find contacts
Ask within your network of contacts. Possible sources for ptoential contacts include:
- Professors, friends, family, and neighbours
- Extern Job Shadowing Program or In The Field Program (for more infrmation, log into CLN and click on the Programs tab)
- Informational Interview Database
- Professional associations in your career area of interest
2. Do your research
- Make a good impression by finding out as much as you can about the career area in advance. Check out our resources and links.
- Investigate your contact’s organization and industry. Research things such as the organizational structure or specific occupations represented in the company. Check out our tip sheet on Company Research.
3. Formulate questions
- Incorporate some of the research you have done into your questions to structure your interview to obtain more detailed answers.
- Try and ask open ended questions, not ones that will elicit simply a yes or no.
- Check out our sample questions for ideas.
4. Arrange the interview
- Call your contact and explain that you are preparing to make some career decisions by researching potential occupations.
- Leave a good impression by being courteous, punctual, prepared and informed. While this is not a job interview, your contact might pass your name along to a colleague who is in a position to hire at a leter date.
- Dress appropriately and professionally; business casual is a good option.
5. Interview tips
- If you are nervous, practice interviewing someone you know. While an information interview is more formal than a regular conversation, it is not as formal as a job interview. Most people enjoy talking about their careers and are eager to help!
- Pay close attention to how long the conversation has been (many professionals are very busy and have limited time).
- Thank the contact and send a follow-up thank you email.
- Do NOT ask to submit a resume, as the purpose of informational interviews is to gain information. However, if the contact requests a resume, feel free to provide one.