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What is An Informational Interview?

If you're a college senior, many of your professors, managers, and peers may be recommending that you schedule informational interviews as part of your job search. But, what exactly is an informational interview?


Informational interviews are an underutilized part of the overall job search process. Such an interview is with a local professional either in your field or at an organization you have your sights on for future employment, or both. They allow you to expand your network of contacts, receive constructive criticism on your resume and portfolio, and learn where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

To find the right people to sit down with for these informational interviews, scour the internet, browse LinkedIn, and tell your professors, peers, and managers that you are looking to meet inspirational and successful people. Once you have a list, send each person a personalized letter that explains your background (college studies, internships, etc.), your career goals, your interest in an informational interview, and what you hope you gain from sitting down and speaking with them. Be clear that you are seeking information only - not a job - and that you are flexible to do this during their lunch break at a coffee house, via phone, or at their office at their convenience. It may also help to make it clear that you plan on this meeting being brief (less than an hour) so as to not inconvenience their work day.

Informational interviews require the same preparation as a real job interview - know information about the interviewer and organization, dress professionally, have your resume and portfolio prepared, and come up with some questions to ask. Some great examples are: How did you get in this field? What do you like least/most about your job? What skills are most pertinent for success in your job? What is your typical day like? What emerging trends do you see potentially changing your field over the next 5 years? What is your biggest tip for a recent grad trying to get a job in this field?

Following up after the informational interview is crucial to building your network. Immediately after the appointment, email the professional you met with to thank them for their time and their input. If you know this professional regularly goes to professional events in your local area, make a point to go to those events and touch base with them. You never know they may be able to help you again in the future, and who they may know as you continue your job search. These days, it is not only about just what you know, but also who you know in order to land a job. It is important to make the most of these valuable meetings.

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