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Informational Interviews

Informational interviews help you research job opportunities.

What is an Informational Interview?

An informational interview is a meeting between you and another professional. It is a way to find out more about industries, careers, or companies you're interested in. You can also see how well your skills and interests fit with a career path or employer.

You set up the informational interview. And you are expected to ask the questions. The purpose is to get information, not to get a job. These interviews are a good opportunity to get leads and develop network contacts.

How Do You Set One Up?

Find people. Decide the industry, career, or company you want to explore. Then ask everyone you know for potential contacts related to your goal. It is OK to schedule the interview with someone without hiring power. They often know more about day-to-day activities and have more specific information for you.

Make contact. Pick up the phone or e-mail and make contact. Below is a possible script:

"Ms. Smith, Brad Johnson suggested I speak with you. My name is Mandy Olson and I am interested in the ________ field. I could use advice from someone who is in this field. Do you have any time this week when I could meet with you? I know you're busy, so I only need about 20 minutes of your time. I would really like to learn more about your company and the ________ field from someone like you."

You may want to explain a little about your own background and why their career appeals to you. Be sure they know that you are not asking them for a job.

Tips for Success

  • If meeting in person, dress and act professionally.
  • Make a good impression. This person may provide additional leads or referrals that could lead to a job.
  • Bring a copy of your resume in case you have the opportunity to have it reviewed or to leave it with the person who interviews you.
  • Keep it short. Limit your initial interview to 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Ask for names of other people to contact.
  • End the interview with an action plan. Ask if you can contact him or her again.
  • Thank the person for taking the time to meet with you.
  • Remember to follow up with a thank-you note after your interview.

Sample Informational Interview Questions

To make best use of your interview time, know in advance what questions you are going to ask. You might want to ask:

  • What is a day on your job like?
  • What do you like about your job? Dislike?
  • Is your job typical of others in this field?
  • What's the corporate culture like here? (hours, salary, titles)
  • Which firms do you think are your toughest competitors, and how do they differ from your company?
  • How did you get into this field?
  • How do you stay current in your knowledge?
  • What kind of experience or training is required?
  • What are employers looking for? (skills, education, experience)
  • What is the potential for advancement?
  • What are current job prospects like?
  • Are there related fields I may want to look into?
  • What's the best way to find out about jobs in this field?
  • Can you refer me to someone else in this field?

Source: Adapted from Creative Job Search, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

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