Informational Interviews

A great way to explore careers and begin networking is through informational interviews. Informational interviews are an opportunity to connect with a professional in the career field you are considering. The interview is a chance to ask questions about duties and tasks, work environment, and career path.


Find a Professional Make a Connection Prepare for an Interview
Conduct an Interview Follow Up Additional Information

 


Find a Professional

Start by identifying potential people to interview. Make a list of family, friends, and neighbors that you know in careers related to your interests. Ask your parents, co-workers, or others if they have any connections they think would be willing to sit down with you for an informational interview. Create a LinkedIn profile, join the Gustavus Adolphus College Alumni group and search for individuals at companies you are interested in, who graduated with the same major you are pursuing, or who have a career that interests you. Please note, you do not want to connect with every alum on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional social media site and you want to interact in a professional manner. Find one or two people to connect with to start.  See if you share a mutual LinkedIn connection to introduce you.

 


Make a Connection

Once you have identified the professional you would like to interview, make contact with them by phone or by email. Introduce yourself and the reason for your call or email. Explain how you obtained their name or who referred you. Emphasize that you want to learn more about the career field and gather informaton. Let them know that you would be looking for 30 minutes of their time to meet at their convenience or ask if they would be willing to respond to some questions via email.

An example would be:

"Hello, Mr/Ms. _______. My name is _______________. I am a currently a sophomore at Gustavus Adolphus College and am considering a career in ______________. I am looking for information on the career field and was referred to you by _______. I am wondering if I could have 30 minutes of your time to hear from you about the field and your career path."



Prepare for an Interview

Before you interview, research the career field you are interested in and the company the professional works for. Though you are not being interviewed, be prepared to answer questions about yourself including your interests, experiences and goals.

Think about what you want to learn about the career field. Write a list of specific questions to ask the professional you are interviewing. Here are sample questions to get you started:

  • What is a typical day or week like?
  • What do you enjoy most about this position?
  • What are the biggest challenges of your position?
  • What is your educational background?
  • What are the entry-level opportunities in this field? What are the opportunities for advancement?
  • What charateristics does a person in this field need to have?
  • What are the trends in this field?
  • What are some related occupations to this field?
  • What should I be doing outside of my coursework to get into this field?
  • What advice do you have for me?

 


Conduct an Interview

Most interviews should only last between 20-30 minutes. You want to be respectful of the professional's time. Be sure that you:

  • Arrive early, but not more than 15 minutes early.
  • Dress professionally in business attire or business casual attire.
  • Be friendly and professional -- smile and shake their hand.
  • Thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
  • Explain briefly about your goals and interests, sharing why you think this interview will be helpful to you. Then be prepared to ask your questions and listen.
  • Never ask directly for an internship or job.
  • Thank them again!  Let them know that you appreciate their time.

 


Follow Up

Always follow up with a professional thank you note. In your thank you note, tell them that you appreciate their time and the information that they shared. Write something specific you learned or a specific step you plan to take based on their advice.

Keep a record of who you spoke with -- their name, title, location and the date of the interview. Take some time to review your notes and reflect on what you have learned. Ask yourself what other kinds of information or experiences you need to make a good decision. Interview more than one person in the career field(s) you are interested in. You will find similarities and differences in their responses, as well as in their experiences and career paths.

 


Additional Information

LinkedIn Student Guide

 

Updated 5/2/2017 CO