Informational Interviews

Skillfully used, an informational interview is one of the most valuable sources of occupational information. While it may cover some of the same ground as printed material or information on a company website, it presents opportunities for an intimate and flexible inside view of a job field unmatched by other sources. The information interview communicates the firsthand experience and impressions of someone in the occupation and is directed by your questions.

Arranging the Interview:

Call the contact person directly and explain your objective of gathering information in a particular career field. Ask for 30 minutes or less and be courteous.

Preparing for the Interview:

Create specific questions in advance of the interview. Consider asking the following types of questions:

  1. What is a typical day like as a [job title]?
  2. How did you get started in this field?
  3. What is your specific background and experience?
  4. What entry-level jobs are best for learning as much as possible in this field?
  5. What skills are essential to succeed in this field?
  6. What is the typical career path for advancement?
  7. What do you like best about your work? Least?
  8. How many hours a week do you typically work?
  9. Can you describe your working environment?
  10. What are the obligations outside of work?
  11. What salary can someone expect at an entry level?
  12. What types of changes are occurring in this field?
  13. What is the employment outlook in this field over the next ten years?
  14. As you look back on your first few years after college, what would you do differently?
  15. What other occupations are closely related to this one?
  16. Are there other people you suggest I should talk to?
  17. What general advice would you have for someone considering this field of work?

Following-up on the Interview:

Not only do you want to let the professional know you appreciate the time he or she spent with you, but you may also want to utilize this individual as a valuable contact going forward. Send a thank you email or handwritten note within 24 hours of your interview.

Interview Request Email Examples