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Informational Interviewing

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Uncomfortable with the idea of networking? Watch this video to reframe your thinking.

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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

Point: Visit Yale's Roadtrip Nation webpage to access 5,000+ informational interview videos from professionals of every kind. These videos cover questions about their struggles, successes, and how they figured out the age-old dilemma, “What should I do with my life?”. You'll also get a sense of what makes for a good informational interview, and hear from professionals in a variety of industries.

  1. Identify the Interviewee: Consider family, friends, professors, advisors, the Yale Career Network and LinkedIn.

  2. Contact: Request an in person or phone appointment. Indicate the reason you are connecting and how much time you are seeking (20-30 minutes).
  3. Scheduling: Be prepared to adjust your schedule. Suggest lunch, coffee break, etc. (When is it convenient for your contact to meet with you?)
  4. Confirm: Be sure you have agreed on the date and place of your meeting, and send a brief note of confirmation.
  5. Research: Research the career field before the meeting. Informational Interviews should not be a starting point for your research.
  6. Preparation: Prepare relevant questions (see below). Bring a copy of your resume in case you are asked for it.
  7. Appearance & Arrival: Prepare to wear business casual or business attire depending on the interviewee’s workplace. Arrive 10-15 minutes early.
  8. Keep Records: Created a spreadsheet to record names, meeting dates, contact information, and notes.
  9. Thank You: Ask for a business card before you leave and send a note of thanks after the meeting.

File: Sample Networking Correspondence

Student: Note Requesting an Informational Interview

Alum: Note Requesting an Informational Interview

Post Meeting Thank You Note

Point: "The Right Way to Ask, 'Can I Pick Your Brain?'" by Anna Goldfarb, the New York Times

Sample Questions for Informational Interviewing

FAQ: 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?

FAQ: Job Environment

  • 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.

FAQ: 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).

FAQ: Growth Opportunities

  • 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?

FAQ: Seeking Advice

  • 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 known about this field when you were just starting out?