Informational Interviewing is a powerful networking tool to learn about career paths and build future relationships. 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 their path to that position. Check out the articles below for sample informational interview questions, tips for a successful experience, and a walkthrough to build your best LinkedIn profile.
Don’t forget to build your LinkedIn Profile to help you make a strong first impression. Also, check out our sample correspondence to help you get started with that first outreach email requesting an informational interview!
Steps to Set Up an Informational Interview
- Identify the Interviewee: Consider family, friends, professors, advisors, Yale alums, and LinkedIn.
- Contact: Indicate why you are connecting, request a meeting (phone or in-person), and how much time you are seeking (20-30 minutes).
- Scheduling: Be prepared to adjust your schedule. Ask when is it convenient for the contact to meet?
- Confirm: Once you agree on the date and place of your meeting, send a brief note of confirmation.
- Research: Before the meeting, research the field and use the informational interviews to learn more.
- Preparation: Prepare questions and bring your resume in case you are asked for it.
- Appearance & Arrival: Wear business casual or business attire depending on the meeting location. Arrive 10-15 minutes early.
- Keep Records: Create 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.
Key Questions to Ask
As you prepare for an informational interview, prepare your questions ahead of time. Keep in mind, this is your opportunity to ask questions and learn.
Job Requirements and Experience
- How did you get started in this field? Is that typical of most people?
- Describe a typical workday/week. Are these duties the same for anyone with your job title or level?
- 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, their daily routine, dress, office layout, etc.
Benefits and Challenges
- What are the greatest rewards of your work? The greatest frustrations?
- On what basis are professionals in your field evaluated? How is success measured?
- What is the typical 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, classes, or specialized training would best prepare me for this field?
- 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 known about this field when you were just starting out?