Informational interviewing is a productive way to gather details from professionals about occupations that interest you. It is helpful to determine if your ideas about the work are realistic and if it is an appropriate match for your skills, values, and career interests.
Most students and career changers accomplish this by talking with a practicing professional in career field(s) of interest either by phone or in person to learn about a particular work environment. The interview is strictly to gather career information and not to ask for a job. Also, if you are calling a busy executive, it is courteous to write an introductory letter informing him/her when and why you will be calling.
In your search for information, don’t limit yourself to Allegheny alums. Talk to as many people as you can and gather as much career-related information as you need to be able to make an informed career decision. A student is rarely refused an opportunity for an information interview. Most commonly, your professional contact will be flattered by your interest in his/her career and talk with you quite agreeably. Make sure to send an email or thank you note to your professional contact after completing the interview.
The questions below can be used to gather more information your career fields of interest.
- What credentials, educational degrees, licenses, etc. are required for entry into this kind of work?
- What types of prior experiences are necessary?
- What are your typical day and work week like?
- Where are you located in the organizational structure?
- Do you have any long-range goals in this type of work?
- If your job progresses as you like, what would be the next step in your career?
- What courses have proved to be the most valuable to you in your work? What would you recommend for me?
- What kinds of experience, paid or un-paid, would you encourage for anybody pursuing a career in this field?
- Based on our conversation, whom else do you feel I should talk with?
*Adapted in part from The Field Experience Guidebook, Section @: Getting the Most from Your Field Experience, University of Delaware, Career Planning and Placement Office.