Informational Interviewing is a powerful networking tool where you will learn about various career paths and build relationships for the future. Although an informational interview may lead to a job offer, that is not the primary goal. The focus is to learn about the person's organization, their role and the path they took to get there.
Steps for a Successful Informational Interview
Identify the Interviewee: Consider family, friends, professors, advisors, the Yale Career Network and LinkedIn.
Contact: Request an in person or phone appointment. Indicate the reason you are connecting and how much time you are seeking (20-30 minutes).
Scheduling: Be prepared to adjust your schedule. Suggest lunch, coffee break, etc. (When is it convenient for your contact to meet with you?)
Confirm: Be sure you have agreed on the date and place of your meeting, and send a brief note of confirmation.
Research: Research the career field before the meeting. Informational Interviews should not be a starting point for your research.
Preparation: Prepare relevant questions (see below). Bring a copy of your resume in case you are asked for it.
Appearance & Arrival: Prepare to wear business casual or business attire depending on the interviewee’s workplace. Arrive 10-15 minutes early
Keep Records: Created a spreadsheet to record names, meeting dates, contact information, and notes.
- Thank You: Ask for a business card before you leave and send a note of thanks after the meeting.
File: Sample Networking Correspondence
Sample Questions for Informational Interviewing
Job Requirements and Experience:
- How did you get stared in this field? Is that typical of most people?
- Describe a typical work week. Would these duties be the same for anyone with your job title or level within an organization?
- What skills and personal qualities are most important for success in this job?
- How would you describe the professional climate in your office? In your industry?
- What portions of your job involve interaction with coworkers, clients, or vendors?
- How much evening, weekend or overtime work is required? What about traveling?
- Observe the work environment while you are there: the people who work there, their daily routine, dress, office layout, etc
Benefits and Challenges
- What are the greatest rewards of your work?
- What are the greatest frustrations? How do you deal with them?
- On what basis are professionals in your field evaluated? How is success measured?
- What is the starting salary range for new professionals in this field? (Do not ask for their salary).
- What are the opportunities for advancement in this field? Could you describe a typical promotion path?
- What are some growth areas in this field and what impact is that likely to have on job opportunities?
- What kinds of education or specialized training would best prepare me for this field?
- What courses can I take or projects can I complete that will also be helpful?
- Are there any professional organizations that would help me to build my network in this field?
- Where do people in this field typically look for internship and job opportunities?
- Can you recommend other people for me to talk to?
- What do you wish you had know about this field when you were just starting out?