Informational Interviewing

Informational interviewing is a process of gathering information, from people actually working in the career you're considering, to help you with job search and career planning questions.

Benefits: 

  • Help you map out strategies for marketing yourself when you are looking for a co-op or a professional position after graduation.
  • Gain confidence for job interviews by practicing asking questions and providing information about yourself.
  • Help you determine whether you're in the right major for your career goals.
  • It is not to find a job, though this can sometimes happen.

Informational Interview Tutorial

Letter Requesting An Informational Interview

Preparing For The Informational Interview

  1. Identify an individual you can interview

  2. Contact them
    • See "Letter Requesting An Informational Interview" above. 
      KEY TIP -- ask for advice rather than if they have job openings because everyone can give you advice, very few can give you a job. As you ask them questions, they are likely to tell you if their company has any openings anyway.
  3. Adhere to the 10-15 time frame and only stay longer if the individual absolutely insists. It will show you are a person of your word and respectful of their time.

  4. Be prepared with your questions and a pad to take notes. 

  5. Start off your conversation by briefly giving them your background – 30 seconds max – major, graduation date, and other key qualifications. Be sure to emphasize the skills and qualifications most sought after by employers in your fields of interest!
    • For example, "I am graduating in May with a degree in ____. While in college I worked 20 hours per week while going to school full time. I am active in ______ organization and have worked as a ____ for the past two years where I developed strong communication skills assisting hundreds of customers."
    •  Then ask them questions from the sections below depending on what your goals are. 
  6. After the meeting, send a thank you note by the very next day. If your contact is on LinkedIn, thank them from there and ask them to be part of your network.  

  7. Finally, when you find a job, make sure to let all the folks who gave you advice know and thank them again for their help. This will help to solidify your network so you can go back to your network of contacts the NEXT time you look for a job and remember networking is always a two-way street. It must benefit both persons to be most effective, so just as you asked your network for help when you needed it, be prepared to return the favor.

Questions For Finding A Co-op/Internship

  • What has been your career path to your current position?
  • What knowledge, skills and qualities are critical to be effective in this field?
  • Did you ever do a co-op or internship?
  • How did you find that co-op or internship?
  • What would you say is the most effective way to find a co-op or internship in my field?
  • Are there qualities, skills or knowledge I should emphasize that would help me stand out?
  • What do you think of my resume? Do you see any problem areas? How would you suggest I improve it?
  • Do you have any interviewing suggestions that could increase my chances of getting a co-op or internship offer?
  • I would like to talk to a few more people about finding co-op or internship, who do you know that I should talk to next?
  • When I call him/her, may I use your name?
  • Would you be willing to contact this person and let them know that I will be contacting them?

Questions For Finding A Professional Position After Graduation

  • What has been your career path to your current position?
  • What knowledge, skills and qualities are critical to be effective in this field?
  • If you were me (had my qualifications) and you wanted to have a job in this career field, what would you do?
  • What positions would you target? What are the entry level positions someone with my background would have the best chance of getting? (This helps determine job titles you should be searching for)
  • Where would you look/what would you do to find openings for these positions?
  • What companies/organizations would you target?
  • What websites would you use?
  • Where else would you look?
  • Who would you talk to? How would you find them? What would you say?
  • Are there qualities, skills or knowledge I should emphasize that would help me stand out?
  • What do you think of my resume? Do you see any problem areas? How would you suggest I improve it?
  • Do you have any interviewing suggestions that could increase my chances of getting a job offer?
  • I would like to talk to a few more people about job searching, who do you know that I should talk to next? When I call him/her, may I use your name?
  • Would you be willing to contact this person and let them know that I will be contacting them?

Questions For Career Exploration

  • What's the best part about this job (industry, organization)? The worst?
  • What has your career path been?
  • What was your college major? If you could do it over, would you change your major or do anything else differently?
  • What recommendations would you have for a student interested in moving into this career?
  • What pressing professional challenges do you have?
  • What's the outlook for your industry (business, profession)?
  • How well does your career allow for a good work-life balance?
  • On a typical day in this position, what do you do?
  • What is the salary range for various levels in this field?
  • What are the basic prerequisites for jobs in this field?
  • What do you think of the experience I've had so far in terms of entering this field?
  • Who do you know that I should talk to next? When I call him/her, may I use your name?