Informational Interviews

Are you someone who isn’t sure of what career path you would like to take? Do you have questions that only a professional in your field of interest can answer? Then why don’t you set up an informational interview?

An informational interview is less stressful than an actual job interview, and can help you understand whether a certain profession will be right for you. This is because it presents opportunities for an inside view of a job field by allowing you to talk to a professional about their first hand experiences they had on the job. This form of an interview is great because it is directed by the questions that you have for the business professional.

Often times, students find that scheduling an interview with a business professional is nerve-wracking, but today I will go through ways in which you can be prepared for this. To conduct an informational interview all you have to do is the following three things:

Email the Business Professional:

First, it is essential that you email the business professional asking them what time would be best to schedule this interview. Be sure to state in the email the explicit purpose of your interview. Once you hear back from the business professional, think about some of the things you would like to know from the professional. Once you have an idea, you are ready to create you interview questions.

Research the Professional/Create Interview questions:

The best types of interviews are the ones that flow naturally, but this will not happen unless you are fully prepared. This is why it is so crucial to research the professional and have a list of questions ready so that you can get something beneficial out of this interview.

Try to prepare at least 10-15 questions you would like to ask the business professional. Some of the questions can touch upon their brief biography, how they got their job, and what there job entails.  You can use LinkedIn and other sources on the internet to help you with this step. Be sure to try to find a few similarities between the two of you. It is important to be well prepared so that you can have a valuable conversation.

Here are some sample questions you can ask your interviewee:

  •  What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
  • How many hours do you work in a typical week? 
  •  How would you describe the corporate culture?
  • What educational preparation would you recommend for someone who wants to advance in this field?
  •  What particular skills or talents are most essential to be effective in your job?
  • What are some of the courses that will enable me to excel in this field?
  • For someone like me who is considering this field, what would be you advice?
  • How does a person progress in your field? What is a typical career path in this field or organization?
  • What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging?

 

Note: Remember, you don’t need to ask everything on your list, but having a variety of questions will allow you to mix up the conversation based on your interviewee’s responses.

 

 Follow Up with a Thank you Email:

After conducting the interview, be sure to get the professional’s business card and follow up with an email. It is very crucial that you thank your interviewee for their time. Expressing your appreciation will not only make your interviewee feel great, but he/she will know that they were beneficial to you and who knows—they might be able to open doors for you in the future. Ask the person to keep you in mind if they come across any other information that may be helpful to you in your career search, and lastly keep in touch with this person!

Well that’s it for now! I hope you found this post beneficial. Remember, don’t be afraid to conduct these interviews, the more you do the less awkward they become—and the more you learn!