Informational Interviewing

Informational interviews are one of the best ways to explore career paths and expand your network. Unlike a job interview, the goal of an informational interview is primarily to gather information about a career path or organization, not get a job. Additionally, you are the one asking questions. 

Four steps to the perfect informational interview 

1. Identify your interview subject: 

  •  Start with people with whom you're most comfortable (e.g., friends and family), even if they don’t work in an area that seems appealing to you initially; you may be surprised by what you learn.
  • They may also be able to connect you with someone who is familiar with your desired career field. 

2. Ask for 20 minutes: 

  • Most people have 20 minutes of spare time in their day for a conversation.
  • Ask “I’m looking for some advice and information – could you spare 20 minutes for me next week to talk about your career path?” 

3. Prepare questions: 

  • Take the time to think about what you’d really like to know about the individual’s career path.
  • You might ask about the person’s work background, education and training requirements, what a typical day is like, and whether they have any advice about entering this field.
  • Be sure to ask if they can recommend anyone else you might speak with regarding your career interests to keep your momentum going. 
  • Here is a list of great sample questions for your interview subject: 
    • Tell me about your career path.  How did you get started doing this? 
    • What education and training did you need to do this? 
    • What are critical skills that you need to have for this field? 
    • What is an average day like?  What are your major responsibilities? 
    • What are some upcoming trends/challenges to the field that I should know about? 
    • What advice would you give someone thinking about entering this field? 
    • Do you know of anyone else that I could contact? 


4. Stay in contact: 

  • Send a handwritten thank you note to each person with whom you speak
  • Follow up on occasion and updated them on your career search.

Informational Interviewing Resources