Informational Interviewing Untitled Document LMU CDS
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Career Exploration

Informational Interviewing

Good career decisions result from having good information. Valuable career information may also be gathered by talking with working professionals representing occupational fields in which you have an interest.  Conducting informational interviews is about gathering information about a particular industry or occupation, it is not asking for a job.  The following suggestions will enable you to successfully identify, contact, and interview these individuals. 

How to Begin

Arrange a mutually convenient time for an information interview by calling or emailing the individual.
Contact division heads within companies and/or a person employed in a specific occupation in which you are interested.  Or connect with friends, family members, teachers, alumni, and counselors who may be able to suggest contacts.
Ask for an interview by saying something like: “Hello, my name is _____________, I am very interested in learning more about ______________, and I would like to talk with you about what you do and the field in general.”
 Talk to as many people as you can to gather helpful information.
  • Utilize LionJobs database, business directories, and other resources available through CDS.
  • Research the company/organization for which the person you are going to interview works.  

Suggested Questions to Ask

  • How did you get into this field?
  • What do you like most/least about your job?
  • What is a typical day like?
  • What are your job responsibilities?
  • What kind of individual (in terms of talent/personality) would be best suited for this kind of job?
  • What are the prospects for someone entering your field today?
  • What advice would you give regarding how to best prepare for entering this field?
  • What advice would you give on how to apply for and find a job in this field?
  • Is travel required?
  • Are there any other sources of information you might suggest?
  • Where might I go to find an employer who could use my skills?
  • What function or service does your office provide?
  • What are the recurring problems for people in this field or your office?
  • What salary range could I expect to make in this field?
  • Are there any other jobs that are similar to yours but with different job titles?
  • Who do you know that I might benefit from talking with?
  • Where else might I go to find someone doing something similar to what you do?

Additional Suggestions

  • Be organized with your questions and prepared to take notes.  You are seeking information and advice, not asking for a job at this time. 
  • Your positive, enthusiastic attitude will create a good impression.  People are more apt to help others after they get to know them on a more personal basis – this is a great way to get referrals and begin the networking process. 
  • Be conscious of time constraints.

Follow-Up

  • Write a thank-you note, which may be hand-written or typed. You may wish to enclose a resume, matching the information gathered from the interview with your experiences and background. 
  • Make sure your contact information includes your name, address and local phone number.
  • Stay in touch with your contacts and update them periodically on your status and to inquire if they have heard of any new opportunities.

Evaluate

Whether the interview was successful or not, assess how well it went.  Look for what went well (strengths) versus improvement needed for your next interview.  Feel free to discuss the interview with a career counselor.  Since your main reason was information gathering, ask yourself a few questions, such as:

  • Does the person I just talked with use the skills I want to use?
  • Would I be qualified for his/her job?
  • Do I understand what the job entails?
  • Would I enjoy working in this capacity?
  • Did I get additional ideas for alternatives?
  • Do I have an idea about what my salary might be?
  • What impression (positive or negative) do I now have about this area of work?
  • Would I enjoy working for this company?
  • What are the goals (needs, concerns, problems, issues) of this area of work/company?
  • How can I help meet those needs, accomplish those goals?
  • Which of my personal assets could I offer?