Informational Interviewing

Informational interviews are conversations that you initiate with a person working in a career or company in which you are interested.

They are valuable for exploring careers, preparing for a future career, and searching for internships and job. The objective is not to ask about job openings, but to gain first-hand information and expand your network of contacts.

Informational Interviewing Tip Sheet

Identify People | Ask to Meet | Prepare/Conduct the Meeting | Follow-Up

Benefits of an Informational Interview:

  • Gain first-hand information on the day-to-day aspects of a career, industry or organization.
  • Learn about career paths that are new to you.
  • Get insider knowledge on how to prepare for and land your first career position.
  • Expand your network by initiating a professional relationship.

Step 1 – Identify People

  • Ask friends, family, professors, advisors, etc. who they know and if they can connect you.
  • Identify UWM alumni on LinkedIn, click “connect”, and include a message asking for an informational interview.
  • Attend professional or subject specific MeetUps, as well as career fairs.
  • Look at staff pages on websites of organizations related to careers and jobs you are interested in.

Step 2 – Ask to Meet

You may feel awkward reaching out to someone you don’t know; you shouldn’t.

Contact the person by phone, email, LinkedIn, or ask a shared contact to send a mutual introduction. Explain why you want to talk with them and how you came across their name, such as a website or referral from a mutual contact.

Ask to meet face-to-face, in person or virtually. If that is not possible, then purpose a phone conversation.

An introduction email message requesting an informational interview

Additional Example Asking to Meet

“Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a student at UWM. I found your name online and thought you could help me learn more about the field of human resources. Would you be willing to meet with me for about 20 minutes to answer some of my questions about the career and share with me your experiences and advice?”

Step 3 – Prepare for the Meeting

Before you meet:

  • Research the career, industry, and/or organization.
  • Learn about the person you are interviewing through LinkedIn, organization website, etc. Avoid personal social media channels such as Facebook.
  • Reflect on what you hope to gain from the meeting by writing concrete goals for the interview.
  • Develop questions that will help you achieve your goals.
Questions You Can Ask
Here are some sample questions you can use to get you started in developing your own questions. Be sure to tailor the questions to the industry and person.

  • How did you become interested in this field?
  • Describe a typical day/week?
  • What part of this work do you find most rewarding?
  • What are the toughest problems you deal with?
  • What education, training, skills and personal qualities are essential in this career?
  • What steps do you recommend I take to prepare to enter this field?
  • What additional training or qualifications are necessary for advancement?
  • How rapidly is the present career field growing?
  • Is turnover high in this field?
  • What advice would you give someone who is considering this type of job/field?
  • If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?
  • Can you suggest anyone else I could contact for additional information?

Step 4 – Conduct the Meeting

If you are meeting in-person, arrive 10 minutes early and plan for traffic and parking. Dress appropriately; business casual is best.

Notes and recordings are a great way to help you review after your meeting. Ask if it is okay to take notes and/or record the meeting. Show you respect their time by keeping the meeting to the agreed amount of time.

Tips to remember the day of the meeting

  • Arrive 10 minutes early. Plan for traffic and parking.
  • Dress appropriately. Consider business casual.
  • Ask your questions. Take notes or ask to record the meeting.

Step 5 – Follow Up

  • Send an email or handwritten thank you within 24 hours.
  • Connect with the individual on LinkedIn.
  • Reflect on what you learned and how to use that information.
  • Set up an appointment with our Career Advisors to go over the information you gained and how you can use it.

Conducting Informational Interviews


 

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