Career Conversations Guide
Career Conversations (Informational Interviewing) allow you to:
- Explore careers and gain perspective on skills needed
- Develop knowledge of industry trends
- Gain exposure to various jobs and different organizational cultures
- Create a professional network to support the job search
- Develop interviewing skills in a low-risk situation
Reach out to people you know and share with them your career interests and desire to connect with professionals in the field:
- Advisors, faculty, and staff
- Career Services
- Through experience-based classes and assignments
- Colleagues, classmates, friends, parents, parents’ friends, friends’ parents
- LinkedIn groups and professional associations
Setting Up the Career Conversation
Initial contact via email or phone should include:
- An introduction of yourself including major and class year
- Why you are contacting the person and how you got their name
- Your interests as it relates to the field/industry
- A request to meet with them for a 20-30 minute career conversation via phone, Zoom, or in-person meeting
Preparing for the Career Conversation
Research the organization/company/career field and the person you will be meeting. Preparing for the interview shows respect for the professional you will be talking to. Review the organization/company’s mission statement, new initiatives, long term projects, media attention, and overview.
Prepare a list of 5-7 questions for the conversation. Select questions that will help you gather useful information for your career research. 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?
- Describe a typical workday or work week.
- What parts of the job do you find most satisfying/challenging?
- What is the job outlook for this field?
- What are typical entry-level jobs in this field?
- What do you suggest for job search strategies?
- 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 this field?
- What haven’t I asked you that I should know?
Specific to company
- Could you please provide an overview of your organization/company?
- Could you please provide an overview of your office/department/division?
- What is rewarding about working at this organization/company?
- What types of professional development opportunities are available?
Final and important question
- Who else would you recommend I speak with for additional information?
- Remember this session is for gathering information, not asking for a job. Therefore, you will be asking most of the questions.
- Begin by introducing yourself and reaffirming your purpose (to gather information).
- Limit your conversation to 30 minutes. Be respectful of others’ time. The interviewee may extend this time but leave it up to them.
After the Conversation
- Email or mail a thank-you note expressing your appreciation for the interview and mentioning a couple of pieces of helpful advice from the meeting.
- Connect with them on LinkedIn. Join any LinkedIn groups the interviewee recommends.
- Stay in touch - this contact might be beneficial in the job search process.