An informational interview is a chance to interview an employer about their job, company, and industry. You can obtain valuable information about a type of career through an informational interview. Below are some guidelines for conducting an informational interview.
Brief Information on Informational Interviews
A great way to learn more about a certain profession, company, or industry and to network! Treat it like a job interview but it is NOT a job interview.
- Research the person you’re meeting with and their company
- Start with small talk – build rapport and establish the conversation
- Transition to Q&A – use TIARA
- Trends: How has COVID affected your job? How do you anticipate this field will grow in the next 5-10 years?
- Insights: What surprises you most about your job/your employer? What do you enjoy about this job/employer?
- Advice: What can I be doing right now to prepare myself for this field? Do you have any advice for a new professional entering this field?
- Resources: What resources should I be sure to look into next? Is there anyone else you recommend I should connect with?
- Assignments: What could I be working on now to set myself apart in this field?
- Send a thank you email or card and continue the relationship
- Let them know who you are
- Do you have a connection?
- Purpose for meeting
Hello! My name is Anita Jobb. I’m currently a sophomore, psychology major at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I was referred to you by Professor Hamilton. He recommended you as a great person to reach out to about forensic psychology. I’d love to speak with you over the phone or via Zoom to learn more about your experience in this field. I’m highly considering this specialty in the future and would love some additional insight. Would you be able to meet with me sometime next week?
Thank you for your time!
Informational Interview Requests
What to say when reaching out either via email or LinkedIn:
Dear Mx. Dimetri,
I am a junior at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising, with an interest in the hospitality industry. I found your contact information through our university’s Handshake account and was very interested in learning more about your experience in marketing at Omni Hotels and Suites. Over the last couple of years, I have developed my skills in marketing research and analytics through coursework and contributed to the market research teams at Southern Hospitality through robust internship programs.
Might you be available for a 30-minute informational interview? I would appreciate hearing about your experience in the marketing department and any advice you might have.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Dear Dr. Pepper,
I saw your profile on Connect UT and I noticed that you worked for XYZ Educational Institution. I will be graduating from UT this upcoming May and I have a deep interest in using my management skills to contribute to the Education industry. Since my first year at UT, I have engaged in two internships and volunteered for three different organizations that are all focused on improving access to education resources for low-income communities.
Given that you have extensive experience in this industry area, I was hoping you might be available for a 30-minute conversation so that I can hear about your experiences in this field. I look forward to hearing your story.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Thank You Emails
After Informational Interview
Dear Dr. Vishal,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about your professional journey and how you navigated the consulting industry to make a considerable impact in the public sector. I enjoyed hearing about your time at 21st Mortgage and can see myself engaging in this type of work. You mentioned on our call that you would be willing to share your former colleague’s contact information with me – thank you again for this kind offer.
I look forward to staying in touch and sharing updates with you. Per your advice, I’m going to explore further into the public sector and government consulting while continuing my case study practice.
INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWING STEPS & QUESTIONS
- Identify Contacts: consider peers at UTK, professors, advisors/mentors, UTK alums (ConnectUT), and family friends.
- Send Emails: specify why you are connecting, share how you found their contact information, request a meeting (phone, zoom, or in-person), and indicate how much time you are seeking (20-30 minutes).
- Schedule/Confirm: ask for days/times in which it is convenient for them to meet. After you agree on the date, time, and location, send a brief note of confirmation.
- Research/Prepare: Research the field/industry and the work the contact has done in the area. Prepare questions (see below) and bring your resume in case you are asked for it.
- Appearance/Arrival: wear business casual or business attire and arrive 5-10 minutes early.
- Take Notes: record names, meeting dates, contact information, and important details shared by the contact.
- Thank You: ask for a business card before you leave and send a note of thanks after the meeting.
The following questions are suggested to get you started. Feel free to ask other questions that will help you get the information you need.
Background and Training
- What kind of education and/or training prepared you for your current position?
- What other jobs have you held? How were they related?
- What skills are the most important for this field? How did you acquire them?
- What has been the most helpful to you in reaching your present position?
- What other occupations did you consider before you chose this one? Why did you choose this occupation rather than one of the alternatives?
- What types of activities do you complete during an “average” day or week? What percentage of your time is spent on each?
- What types of interaction do you have with other people?
- What are your responsibilities?
- What do you like most and least about your position and about the industry?
- What professional associations are related to your industry?
- What would you do differently if you were just starting college?
- What advice would you give someone like me who is considering the field?
- What kinds of opportunities do you think this field offers new professionals?
- What do you think is the best education, training, or experience to enter this field?