What is informational interviewing?
An informational interview involves talking with people who are currently working in the field to gain a better understanding of an occupation or industry -- and to build a network of contacts in that field. It is an informal way for you to learn about company culture, day to day tasks of a job, and career paths.
How to schedule an informational interview
Do your research, think about what you want to learn by asking for an informational interview.
Use your network to schedule an informational interview; alumni, friends or family are a good way to start.
You can call, email, or write a letter to request an informational interview. Ask for 20 minutes of their time and remember you are not asking for a job, just information!
Sample: Hello Holly, I am a Business student at UW Bothell and found you through our Alumni on LinkedIn. I am exploring a career path in your area of expertise and your job at UW sounds fascinating. Would you be willing to speak with me for 20-30 minutes about your experience in the industry?
During the interview
- Come with a list of questions you want answered.
- Introduce yourself with your Elevator speech.
- Do some research on the company, industry, and career field.
- What to bring with you: Your resume, a pen, and a paper for taking notes.
- Dress appropriately, make a good first impression. You never know where your interview may lead.
- Stick to the time you requested. If you asked for 20 minutes, don't take more than 20 minutes.
- Practice active and attentive listening.
- Ask for referrals, this is how you build your network and conduct more informational interviews.
- If time permits, ask the interviewer to review your resume - this is an added bonus to an informational interview.
After the interview
Be sure to send a "thank you" note. Thank the person for their time, information, and insight.
Conduct more than one informational interview; everyone you talk to will have a different opinion, ideas, insight, and contacts for further networking.