An informational interview is an appointment you schedule with someone in a specific industry or work setting that interests you, in order to gain “insider” information about it. Information interviews are one of the most effective ways to learn what you need to know when choosing a major or career, or beginning a job search. Often you can learn things you could not learn any other way.
What Can You Gain From an Informational Interview?
- Up-to-date, firsthand information about an occupation or company
- The chance to discuss how you might fit into a career or company with someone who knows
- Insight into how people feel about their work and organization
- The chance to make important contacts — potential employers — in a non-stressful situation
- Information on the best way to approach a job search in a specific field
- Self-confidence, through the experience of meeting with strangers — a critical element for successful career decision-making and job hunting.
- Advice on how to gain relevant experience to make you a more qualified client.
Informational Interview Tips
- Treat your informational interview like a formal job interview in terms of dress and etiquette.
- Strive to make a good impression — your interview could produce leads or referrals leading to a job offer.
- For more of an inside scoop, consider scheduling the interview with someone who doesn’t have hiring power.
- Keep it short. Don’t ask any more questions than the person you’re interviewing can answer in 20 or 30 minutes. If the person extends it, that’s fine.
- Bring a copy of your résumé and portfolio.
- Ask for names of other people to contact, inside and outside the company.
- Ask for permission to contact the person again.
- Thank the person for taking the time to meet with you.
- Follow up with a thank-you note within 24 hours.
More about informational interviews, including how to conduct them, questions to ask, and how to process the information you get.
How to Network and Market Yourself Into Your Next Job
Elizabeth Atcheson, a Seattle career coach, speaks to SPU students about creating a compelling personal narrative, standing out from the crowd, networking, and conducting informational interviews.
How to Run an Informational Interview
SPU Professional Development Specialist Daniel Hallak walks you through how to do an effective informational interview.