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Informational Interviewing Guide

  1. What is an informational interview?
  2. How to Find People to Interview
  3. Setting Up the Interview
  4. Preparing for the Interview
    1. General career field
    2. Specific to company
    3. Final and important question
  5. The Meeting
  6. After the Interview
  7. Links

What is an informational interview?

An opportunity to gain information, advice and insight on career fields or job search strategies through one-on-one conversations with professionals working in a particular field. Informational interviews are not about asking for a job!

Through informational interviews you:

  • Explore careers, set career goals and make appropriate career decisions
  • Gain perspective on the nature of the work and the skills needed to be successful in the career field
  • Develop knowledge of industry trends and the vocabulary of the career field
  • Gain exposure to various jobs and different organizational cultures
  • Develop a professional network which will be helpful with a job search
  • Learn how to market yourself effectively during a job search
  • Build confidence in your job interviewing skills

How to Find People to Interview

Create a list of all the people you know. Do any of them work in your field of interest or do they have contact with someone who does? Don't hesitate to ask family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, classmates, etc. if they know anyone working in a career field related to your interest and if they would be willing to introduce you to that person. Other ways to find people to interview:

  • Contact the KSC Office of Alumni and Parent Relations to connect with alumni working in your field of interest
  • Ask professors and ACA staff if they have personal contacts or know of any organizations that hire people in your field of interest
  • Network Online - use LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook
  • Company websites and other online sources (professional journals, hoovers.com, etc) will help you identify organizations and people within those organizations you should contact
  • Call the Chamber of Commerce (or visit their website) to get a listing of businesses in the area that are related to your career choice

Setting Up the Interview

Once you have a list of people you want to interview, it is time to contact these people to schedule a 20-30 minute meeting. You can contact someone by email, mail, or phone.

Your initial contact with the person should include:

  • An introduction of yourself
  • Why you are contacting the person and how you found his/her name
  • An explanation of your interests, experiences, background, etc. related to the career field
  • Why you are interested in speaking with him/her
  • Your contact information or how you will contact the person to follow-up (for e-mails, letters or if leaving a voicemail message)

Preparing for the Interview

Research the organization/company/career field and the person you are meeting with. This can be done through a company's website, online resources such as hoovers.com, conducting a "Google" search, or talking to someone who knows the industry and/or the person. Preparing for the interview shows respect for the interviewee.

Prepare a list of questions which will help you gather the information you need and stimulate a conversation between you and the professional. Possible questions include:

General career field

  • What credentials or degrees are required for entry into this kind of work?
  • What types of prior experience are absolutely essential? What experiences do you recommend?
  • What skills or abilities are most essential for success in this job/ career field?
  • What is the typical career path in this field?
  • Describe a typical work day or work week.
  • What parts of the job do you find most satisfying/challenging?
  • How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, hours of work, vacation schedule, place
  • of residence?
  • How often do people in your line of work change jobs?
  • What is the job outlook for the career field?
  • What are typical entry-level jobs in this field?
  • What types of employers hire people with your background; what are some representative job titles?
  • How do people find out about these jobs; where are they advertised? Any job hunting
  • strategies you suggest?
  • How does one advance?
  • What advice would you give to someone starting out in this field?
  • What professional associations/journals would you recommend?
  • What are the most important trends/issues in the career field?

Specific to company

  • What is the organizational structure of the company? What is the organizational culture?
  • What types of formal or on-the-job training does the organization provide?
  • Where is the organization expanding?
  • How does this organization compare with its competition (if applicable)?

Final and important question

  • Is there anyone else you can recommend I speak with for additional information?

The Meeting

  • Remember that you are gathering information, not asking for a job! Therefore, you will be doing the interviewing. Focus on the interviewee's views, opinions, and feelings.
  • Begin by introducing yourself and reaffirming your purpose (to get information).
  • Limit your questions to the ones that are really important to you.
  • As you near the end of your interview, ask for referrals to others in the field, adding "May I say that you suggested I call?"

After the Interview

  • Send a thank-you note - express your appreciation for the interview and mention a couple of pieces of helpful advice from the meeting.
  • Stay in touch - This may be a person who can help you when you begin your job search.

Contact Academic and Career Advising

Academic and Career Advising Office
603-358-2500
Elliot Center
229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435