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.
The benefits of an informational interview include gaining firsthand insights into the daily aspects of a career, industry, or organization, discovering new career paths, acquiring insider knowledge for preparing and securing your first position, and expanding your professional network through meaningful connections.
Steps to an Informational Interview
- Ask friends, family, professors, or advisors 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.
- Look at staff pages on websites of organizations related to careers and jobs you are interested in.
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.
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.
- 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
- How did you become interested in this field?
- Describe a typical day/week?
- What part of this work do you find most rewarding?
- 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?
- Is turnover high in this field?
- What advice would you give someone who is considering this type of job/field?
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.
- 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.