Informational Interviews PDF Print E-mail

 

Informational Interviews

Information Interviewing is a very valuable tool for exploring careers. Conducting information interviews will enable you to expand your personal network, gain information about careers in specific companies and sharpen your interviewing skills.

How to make the connection – Begin by collecting background information
The success of informational interviewing is dependent on your ability to ask reasonable and informed questions. You can easily turn people off by asking the wrong kinds of questions. "Tell me about your firm" is an unfair question to ask someone who has put aside other work and made time in his/her day to talk with you. Your questions should be specific and should show some basic knowledge. Therefore before the interview you should obtain some background information. What is the job title of the person you are interviewing? What is a basic description of this type of job? Information about the company; handout, pamphlets or the company’s annual report are useful. Having some basic knowledge about the company and the career field of the person you are interviewing will aid you in asking informed questions.

What do I want to learn from my contact? - Basic questions to ask
Be sure to respect each individual that you contact in the working world. Be sensitive to their time constraints. Recognize that everyone you speak with will react differently to your initial contact and questions.

  • Once I have learned about the organization, how do I initiate contact?
  • Introduce yourself, and then briefly describe your major and career interests
  • Tell them how you found them (especially if it is an alumni connection)
  • Ask if they could spare 30 minutes of their valuable time to answer some career questions

Your goals can be achieved by asking questions with the following goals in mind:

Learn more about their career path:

  • How did you get into this field and your present position?
  • Have you made any major career changes?
  • What experience, training and skills did you bring to the position?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement?

Develop a closer understanding of their particular job function:

  • What do you do in a typical day? What is the range of your responsibilities?
  • Do you work individually or as part of a team?
  • What are the current issues (innovations, controversies, plans, needs) of your organization or industry?
  • What do you like most about your job? The least?
  • How much interaction does your job involve with co-workers, supervisors, clients?
  • How may hours a week do you work? Do you work weekends?

Determine how you may be able to enter this career field:

  • What advice do you have for someone interested in this area of work?
  • What personal qualities and skills have been vital to your success in this field? Why?
  • What other occupations are closely related to your work?
  • What type of person is most successful in your field?
  • Would you be able to suggest names of other people I could talk with about my area of interest?

Always follow up after the interview
Ensure that you send a thank you note to follow-up your interview. This is also a good opportunity to highlight a key point that you learned from your discussion with them.

Written by the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona

Source: Networking : Student Career Resources