Informational interviews are excellent opportunities for you to learn about different career fields. You are gathering information, asking advice, and learning about a career field or major. Remember, you are not asking for a job.
Set up an Informational Interview
- Identify people in your field who you could interview, such as: alumni, management at your internship, church members, friends of your parents, professors, etc.
- Initial Contact: Clearly identify yourself, your connection, and your intention for meeting.
- Prepare for your meeting: Make a list of questions, research their field and organization.
- Bring: Paper and pen for notes, your contact information, and a copy of your resume (only if they ask for it).
Use the Assessor/Ally Approach
When contacting a new person, don’t put them on the defensive by asking them for a job or a recommendation. If you do that they will become an “Assessor,” who will begin assessing whether or not you are worth recommending. Instead, simply ask for them to share their story. Let them talk about themselves rather than listen to you pitch your skills. That way you are building a relationship (an “Ally”), and they may even advocate for you.
- Be on time and don’t cancel except for an emergency.
- Prepare for your meeting; research the company, industry, etc. Dress professionally.
- Offer to pay for their cup of coffee or lunch.
Organize your questions ahead of your interview. Try to avoid asking questions that can easily be researched online.
- Can you tell me about your career path?
- How did you enter the field?
- What do you finding challenging and rewarding?
- What prepared you for your current position?
- What is it like working for your organization?
- Is there anyone else that you think I should talk to?
Be sure to ask if they are willing to keep in touch, and if so, how to reach them in the future? If they are willing to stay in touch, be sure to follow up. Also, after your interview, be sure to send a thank you, either card or email.
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