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One of the most effective ways to acquire information from people in a professional field in which you are interested is to conduct informational interviews. Informational interviewing is a networking approach that allows you to meet key professionals, gather career information, investigate career options, receive advice on job search techniques and obtain referrals to other professionals.

An informational interview is an interview that you initiate and you ask the questions. The purpose is to obtain information, not to get a job. Thus, never abuse your privilege by asking for a job.

The following are good REASONS TO CONDUCT INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS:

  • To explore careers and clarify your career goal

  • To discover employment opportunities that are not advertised

  • To expand your professional network

  • To build confidence for your job interviews

  • To access the most up-to-date career information

  • To identify your professional strengths and weaknesses

STEPS TO FOLLOW WHEN CONDUCTING AN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW:

  1. Identify the Occupation or Industry You Wish to Learn About

    Assess your interests, abilities, values, and skills, and evaluate labor conditions and trends related to your professional interests.

  2. Prepare for the Interview

    Read all you can about the field prior to the interview. Decide what information you would like to obtain about the occupation/industry. Prepare a list of questions that you would like to have answered. Prepare an updated resume and bring it with you. (The Career Development Center can help you prepare and/or critique your resume).

  3. Arrange the Interview

    Contact your mentor to set up an interview. It is recommended that that interview take place in person, but informational interview can also be conducted over the phone and/or via e-mail. The mentor typically verbalized their preference.

  4. Conduct the Interview

    Dress appropriately, arrive on time, be polite and professional, refer to your list of prepared questions; stay on track, but allow for spontaneous discussion. Before leaving, ask for names of others who might be helpful to you and ask permission to use your mentor’s name when contacting them.

  5. Follow Up

    Immediately following the interview, record the information gathered. Be sure to send a thank-you note to your mentor within one week of the interview.

NOTE: Always analyze the information you’ve gathered. Adjust your job search, resume, and career objective if necessary.

22 QUESTIONS!

Prepare a list of questions that are relevant to you and what you would like to obtain from your informational interview. Following are some sample questions:

  1. (Work Environment) On a typical day in this position, what do you do?

  2. (Background) What training or education is required for this type of work?

  3. (Background) What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?

  4. (Work Environment) What part of this job do you find most satisfying? Most challenging?

  5. (Background) How did you get your job?

  6. (Potential) What opportunities for advancement are there in this field?

  7. (Background) What entry level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?

  8. (Salary) What are the salary ranges for various levels in this field?

  9. (Potential) How do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?

  10. (The Industry) Is there a demand for people in this occupation?

  11. (The Industry) What special advice would you give a person entering this field?

  12. (Training) What types of training do companies offer persons entering this field?

  13. (Background) What are the basic prerequisites for jobs in this field?

  14. (Referral to Other Information Opportunities) Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?

  15. (Background) What do you think of the experience I’ve had so far in terms of entering this field?

  16. (Problems) From your perspective, what are the problems you see working in this field?

  17. (Advice) If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?

  18. (Advice) With the information you have about my education, skills, and experience, what other fields or jobs would you suggest I research further before I make a final decision?

  19. (Advice) What do you think of my resume? Do you see any problem areas? How would you suggest I change it?

  20. (Referral to Others) Who do you know that I should talk to next? When I call him/her, may I use your name?

  21. (Life Style) What obligation does your work put on you outside the work week? How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, work hours, vacations?

  22. (Rewards) What do you find most rewarding about this work, besides the money?