Informational Interviewing Tips
"Information Interviewing" is a technique used to explore and
research occupations and organizations. Information interviewing is
discussed in nearly all career planning and job search books as a
strategy that works. It involves talking with people who are in an
occupation you are considering, potential employers, or simply contacts
who may help provide information or further contacts for you.
Information interviewing has several benefits, including:
- Discovering "first hand" information about an occupation.
Reference books can provide facts about an occupation, such as
salary and demand, but information interviews provide a personalized
perspective of an occupation or job.
- Access to the "hidden" job market. Only 20% of all job openings
are advertised! Direct contact and networking is essential to
finding out about unadvertised job openings. Information
Interviewing is not a job interview, but it can be a helpful first
step in eliciting information about a prospective employer.
- Improvement of self-confidence and interviewing skills.
This handout explains how to set up and conduct an information
interview. The more prepared you are for an information interview, the
more you will get out of it!
STEP 1: Plan Your Goals. Determine your purpose for the
STEP 2: Identify Occupations, Job Titles, or Potential
Employers. Begin by identifying occupations, job titles or potential
employers that you want to explore. Research these areas as thoroughly
as you can before you begin your information interviews to better
prepare yourself for the interviews.
STEP 3: Identify Potential Contacts. Begin to identify
contacts through family, friends, instructors, employer directories,
employer listings, telephone directories, and other networking contacts
within the community. You may have to contact the organization directly
to identify someone you can interview. Once you have researched your
area thoroughly, you should be familiar with professional titles for the
types of people you're trying to contact. As an example, if you are
interested in a marketing position, you might contact a particular
company and ask for the name of the director of the marketing
department. Usually you don't have to identify yourself to elicit the
name, title and business mailing address of the individual. Once you've
developed a list of contacts, it's time to set up the interviews.
STEP 4: Schedule Information Interviews. You can either
write a letter or call to arrange an appointment with the individual;
however, direct telephone calls are usually the most effective. Once you
have contacted the individual, state your purpose. You might begin your
conversation like this:
- Student: "Hi, Ms. Smith, my name is __________, and I'm a
University of Florida student. I'm very interested in the marketing
field and I'm trying to find out as much as I can about it. I have
read a lot about the area, but I really feel it might help to talk
to someone who works in the field. I would appreciate meeting with
you to discuss this occupation, if you have the time. The interview
would only take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. My schedule
is flexible and I can meet with you at your convenience."
Be sure to make it clear that you're not looking for a job at this
time, but that you are just trying to obtain information.
STEP 5: Prepare Your Questions. Based upon your goals for the
interview and the results of your research of the area, prepare your
questions for the interview. Try to make them open-ended questions,
meaning those which can be answered other than by "yes" or "no." The
suggestions below may give you some ideas:
- What is a typical day in the life of a ?
- How did you get interested in this occupation?
- What do you like and dislike about your occupation?
- What is a typical career path in this occupation?
- What kind of academic/training preparation do you recommend for
- What is the projected growth in this occupation?
- What skills should I be developing?
- Are there any clubs or organizations you would recommend?
- What is the organizational structure and where does your
position fit in the organization?
- Is there someone else you can suggest for me to contact?
- If you were going to hire a new entry level person, what would a
highly qualified candidate be like?
- What are the major challenges/problems that your organization is
facing in the coming year?
STEP 6: Conducting the Interview. You should try to dress in
business attire. Arrive early for the interview. When you meet your
interview contact, you should shake hands and exchange greetings. Take
notes during the interview. At the end of the interview, shake hands
again, and express your appreciation for the interview. You should send
a thank you note to the contact following the interview.
Interviews During A Meal