Virtual Career Center

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Exploration: Informational Interviewing


 

What is informational interviewing?

  • It can provide an insider's view of the field or market, assist you to learn about the accurate day-to-day aspects of a career, occupational field, and work environment; identify key organizations that match your interests, identify how organizations post employment vacancies in the field, help you learn of the valued skills of a desired position, and understand how you will be evaluated during an interview.
  • It is not a job interview. When handled appropriately, you can ask about how to locate and pursue employment opportunities or increase your marketability.

Who do you interview?

  • Anyone who you believe could provide you information about your field. This can include practitioners in your field, a friend, relative, or an alumnus who went through your program.

How to prepare for an informational interview:

  1. Send a formal letter, call, or email. Introduce yourself and provide information of how you learned of this individual. Request a time to talk either in person or on the phone. Attach or send your resume (for industry/government) or C.V. (for academia) as appropriate.
  2. Phone the individual or meet with them in person. The interview can last between 20 minutes to an hour.
  3. Send a thank you note within 24 hours stating your appreciation of their time and advice. It is best to send a hard copy, but email is okay if it is the only possibility.
  4. If you decide to pursue a career or employment as a result of the interview, it is important to email or call the individual with an update.

Example questions:

  • How did you get started within your position? What does your day consist of?
  • What is the most rewarding and/or toughest part of your position?
  • What types of employers hire in this field?
  • What kinds of skills are needed in your position?
  • What kind of educational preparation or training is needed for this position?
  • Do you recommend anyone else to speak with in this field? May I have permission to use your name when I contact them?
  • Do you recommend any professional societies to join? Journals to read?
  • Is there any other additional information that would be important for me to know about this field and/or position? Any further information that you feel you would have liked to have known before embarking in this field that would be important for me to know?
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