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Career Informational Interview Instructions

What exactly is an Informational Interview?                  

A career information interview is an opportunity for students to discover more about a particular career from someone who is currently working in the field. Information interviews are great ways to learn the day-to-day realities of the job, gain a real-world perspective, and help determine if the career area meets the student’s needs and expectations. This is not a job interview; it’s an information gathering part of career exploration.

Why do an Informational Interview?

  • To explore careers and clarify your career goal
  • To make more informed decisions about your career goals
  • To expand your circle of professional contacts within a field or industry
  • To ask specific questions about a career field
  • To identify skills, education, and training needed in order to be successful in the field

How do I ask for an Informational Interview?

  • Identify people to interview (yellow pages, company websites, and directories)
  • Contact the person by telephone or send a letter, followed up by a telephone call
  • Explain that you are conducting career research and would like to interview them for information
  • Meeting in person is optimal. Try to schedule a 20-30 minute appointment
  • Try not to let the scheduling call turn into the actual interview. If this happens, try to schedule a site visit as well

How should I prepare for an Informational Interview?

  • Dress appropriately
  • Be punctual
  • Behave professionally
  • Research the contact’s employer via company website and/or other resources so that you can form a knowledge base from which to ask questions. Don’t waste their time; be prepared
  • Know your goals. What are you hoping to discover from this informational interview?
  • Develop a list of specific questions you would like to ask and bring these questions with you to the interview. Questions should be focused to better help you make a good decision about your career aspirations
  • Make sure to stay within the time limit allowed for your interview

What types of questions could I ask my interviewer?

  • How did you choose this career? How did you get this job?
  • Describe a typical day on the job. Describe a typical week.
  • What is the most interesting or rewarding aspect of your job? What is your greatest challenge?
  • What types of education or training are needed for entering this field? What are the opportunities for advancement?
  • What personality characteristics are needed to perform this job?
  • How is the reality of your job different from what you expected when you started your career?
  • What advice would you give to someone considering this type of career?
  • Can you suggest anyone else whom it would be helpful to speak with?

What’s next?

Once you have completed the informational interview, immediately compile the information you have gathered and complete the activity reflection. Do not forget to send a “Thank You” card within one week of the interview.