Informational interviews can be a key networking tool to gain a better understanding of a job and to build contacts in that field.
- What are informational interviews and how can they help me in my job search?
An informational interview is an information gathering session you initiate with a current professional in the career, industry or company you are considering. These interviews can help you obtain a realistic perspective about the field and give you insight into the qualifications needed for the job, enabling you to evaluate whether it is compatible with your skills, interests and goals. Informational interviews can also expand your network of contacts in your field of interest for future opportunities. The intention is not to ask for a job but to find out more information about a possible field or position.
- How do I ask for an informational interview?
Example: Hello, my name is _____. I was referred to you by _____ or (I met you at _____ event). I am currently a Master of Social Work student at the University of Southern California.
As you may know, the field of social work provides me with dozens of job fields I can pursue when I graduate. I am in the process of exploring certain career options.
I know you are an authority in _____ ( job field, position or area of expertise), and I would love an opportunity to schedule a 30-minute meeting, preferably in person, to find out how you got started and to find out more about (particular industry, job field, job type and/or organization).”
- What are questions to ask during an informational interview?
- How did you get started in this field?
- What is a typical day for you in your job?
- What skills are needed to succeed in this field?
- What are some resume strategies for someone who is applying for a career in this field?
- What part of the job is most satisfying? Most challenging?
- What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started in this field?
- What emerging trends do you see affecting your industry/job field in the next five years?
- Is there anyone else I might talk to? May I use your name when I contact that person?
- What can I do to build this relationship?
After the interview, send a note thanking the person for his or her time and detailing the information or advice you gained from the meeting. As time goes on, continue to strengthen the relationship by keeping your interviewee apprised of developments in your career and identifying ways you might assist them (e.g., connecting them to resources, providing ideas to assist them).