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 conducting an informational interview.
What is an Informational Interview?
Informational interviewing is not interviewing for a job, but 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 informational 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 and broaden networking and develop knowledge of the industry
For more information, check out our Tip Sheets on Informational Interviewing.
5 Steps for Conducting an Informational Interview
1. Find contacts
Ask within your network of contacts. Possible sources for potential contacts include:
- Professors, friends, family, and neighbours
- The Job Shadowing Program or In The Field Program (for more information, log into CLNx and click on the Programs tab)
- 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 Career Exploration Resources.
- 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 Sheets 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 later date.
- Dress appropriately and professionally; business casual is a good option.
5. Interview tips
- If you are nervous, practice interviewing with someone you know. While an informational 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 thank you email. Follow up for further networking.
- Do NOT ask to submit a resume, as the purpose of informational interviews is to gain information and networking. However, if the contact requests a resume, feel free to provide one.
updated June 27, 2023