An informational interview is a meeting between a student and a professional to gain insight on the professional’s industry and the responsibilities associated with their job position. The goal is to explore and learn about potential career opportunities so that you can make an informed decision on whether it is a career you would like to pursue. Informational interviews can also provide good insight on the culture of the company and whether you would enjoy working within that environment.
Once you know what kind of careers you might be interested in exploring further, identify local professionals to interview. You can do this by searching on LinkedIn for professionals with the position title you are looking for or by looking directly on company websites. On LinkedIn you can search whether there are any SU alumni who are in that career because they will be more likely to help you than a stranger.
Write an introductory email explaining who you are (SU student), your purpose (informational interview), and request a 15-30 minute meeting. It can be helpful to provide a list of weekdays and times that you are most likely available for the interview. Keep in mind that you will need to allow enough time to travel to their place of work.
It is recommended to prepare for the informational interview in advance by having a list of questions prepared. You don’t want to overwhelm them with questions but you also don’t want to finish with the interview after 5 minutes. Wear a watch so that you can keep track of time and ask your final question with a few minutes to spare at the end. You do not want to use more of their time than what you originally requested. It is okay if you aren’t able to ask all of your questions. You can request for a second interview if needed.
Follow our guidelines for job interviewing and professionalism when conducting an informational interview. Arrive on time, be prepared with questions, and come dressed in professional clothing. After the interview, it is important to send a thank you note for taking the time to meet with you and keep in touch with them as they may be a useful connection in the future.
Sample Questions to Ask:
- How did you become interested in this field?
- How did you initiate your career?
- What are your main responsibilities as a [job position]?
- What does the typical workday look like for you?
- What do you like most about your work?
- What do you like least about your work?
- What kinds of decisions do you make?
- How does your position fit within the field?
- How is your work-life balance in this role?
- What are some issues and trends in the field I should be aware of?
- What are some common career paths in this field?
- How do you get into this field? What entry-level jobs can lead to your position?
- What kind of education and training is needed for your position?
- What skills and abilities are conducive to this job/field?
- What would you recommend I do now as a student to prepare for this field?