The Informational Interview
What is an Informational Interview?
The informational interview is an opportunity to learn about a career which interests you, by meeting and talking with someone who is working professionally in that field. In a question-and-answer session, you will learn first-hand about a job directly from someone who performs the tasks on a daily basis.
Arranging the Informational Interview
- Network through friends, parents, co-workers, and relatives to prepare a list of potential candidates for an interview. You could also prepare a list of companies which interest you, and do research to determine which of their employees might best provide information about your specific areas of interest. Your career counselor at Career Services can help you “brainstorm”.
- Prioritize your list, based on areas of greatest interest to you and convenience of arrangements. Select two or three prospective subjects to contact.
- Contact the person(s) you wish to interview. Identify yourself as a student at Stetson University, state that you are interested in the career they have chosen, and ask if they would mind meeting with you for 20-30 minutes to discuss their career and to answer some questions.
Preparing for the Interview
- Consider what you want to learn during the interview, and select questions accordingly (see below).
- Dress appropriately for the job you are investigating.
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early.
- Bring a copy of your resume with you in case it is requested. However, don’t approach the interview as if you are looking for a job–your purpose is to gather information
Evaluation and Follow-up
- Evaluate your experience. What did you learn from it? Do you have new questions? Did the interview reinforce your interest in this career? How does this career “fit” you?
- Keep names, addresses, and telephone numbers of your contacts for future reference.
- Send a brief thank-you note to each person you interviewed, thanking them for their time.
Suggestions for Informational Interview Questions
- What is a typical day like for you?
- What is the most satisfying part of your job? Least?
- Describe your career path.
- How happy are you with your job here?
- Would you choose to enter this field again? If not, what other field would you choose?
- What would you most like to change about your position?
- What is your educational background?
- What courses best prepared you for this position?
- Knowing what you know now about your field, what courses or training would you do differently?
- What are the most valued skills in this field? How can I best obtain these skills?
- What is your biggest responsibility, and how much pressure do you feel from this responsibility?
- How do you feel your salary compares to other occupations with the same educational requirements, skills, and level of responsibility?
- How much travel and/or geographic relocation is required in your field?
- How difficult would it be for you to change to a similar job in another business, industry, or setting?
- What are your future career plans? Are these typical goals for your field? How easy will they be to achieve?
- What is the most common entry-level position in this field?
- What was your first job in this field? What was the progression of jobs you had in order to get to your present position?
- Can you suggest other people I might be able to interview who have similar career interests?
Informational Interviewing allows you to gather details and obtain advice. The following questions will get you started:
- How did you get into this line of work?
- How do most people get their jobs in this field?
- Why did you take a position with this company?
- What is your function in this company?
- What do you like and dislike most about your job?
- What is a typical day like at this company?
- Can you describe the company culture?
- Can you describe the industry?
- What do people in this career have in common?
- What types of positions are typically available in this company?
- What skills and experience would you look for in an entry-level job applicant?
- What kind of work experience, education or training would be the best preparation for this career?
- What are the short and long-term opportunities for growth in this company?
- What is the salary range for this career?
- What trends do you see taking place in this profession?
- What do you see yourself doing in five years?
- What is the one thing you would have wanted someone to tell you about this career?
- What advice would you give someone who is thinking about this career?
- Do you know of other people who might be willing to give me additional information?
- Can you recommend any sources for more information?