An informational interview is a conversation with a professional who can give you information about an organization, a career field, or a particular job that interests you. An informational interview might assist you in the career decision-making process by helping you
- Understand the day-to-day life of professionals in that field
- Discover career paths you did not know existed
- Identify organizations with which you could later seek an internship or a job
- Prepare for job interviews by becoming better informed about the field
Prepare for an Informational Interview
When conducting an informational interview, make it clear that you are not looking for a job. Show that you are sincerely interested in the interviewee’s work and his/her career story. The goal is to ask questions you could not have answered using other resources. Prepare specific questions, listen attentively, and take notes. Be respectful of your interviewee’s time.
1. Research the field
Don’t expect the interviewee to teach you everything about their field. Research first so you can ask informed questions. You’ll want to make a good impression so this person might be more inclined to give you more contacts to interview or meet.
2. Make a List of Interviewees
Collect names of individuals, companies, and organizations. Use LinkedIn and organization web sites to locate potential interviewees.
3. Research the Company/Organization
Familiarize yourself with the organization’s web site, paying special attention to employee profiles, services provided, client list, and mission statement.
4. Compose a List of Questions
Use knowledge you gathered from the organization’s web site and your previous research to generate questions about a typical day in this field, training and education, work environment, related fields of work, and job growth.
5. Schedule the Interview
Email the interviewee. Introduce yourself as a student from UT Austin who is interested in knowing more about his/her particular career field. Make it clear you are not looking for a job, just information to help you in your career decision-making.
6. After the Interview
At the end of the informational interview, ask to be referred to other people who can extend your exploration. Be sure to send a thank-you note.
To learn more about setting up and preparing for informational interviews, make an appointment with a career counselor.