Connect with & Learn from the Experts!
Have you ever wondered how someone gets that dream job? What avenues were taken for that person to be in that position? One of the best possible ways for you to learn about a particular job or company that interests you is to do an informational interview.
What is an informational interview?
An information interview is a practice interview, where you are the interviewer with the goal of learning all about a specific job type, career or company. Your interviewee is anyone you want to learn more about or someone who can give you an insider's scoop. Informational interviews allow you to ask those questions you've always wondered about, from a professional who is working in the ‘real world' work field.
Is an informational interview right for you?
An information interview can help with the following:
- Prepare you for a job interview by being a better informed applicant;
- Help you determine if this is the right career field for you;
- Explore the variety of career paths available in that field;
- Grow your professional network with the contacts you interview; and
- Build your confidence to engage in professional conversations in your field of interest.
How do you begin?
- Complete a self-assessment: What are your career goals? What are your interests, values, and skills? Meet with a coach at the LACS office to determine your strengths and possible fields of interest. What do you want to learn from the professional you plan to interview?
- Make a list of potential organizations/professionals to interview: Use LACS resources to research companies/organizations of interest to you and identify contacts you would be most interested in interviewing. Connect with contacts using LinkedIn, CareerNetwork, BTT Gateway, accessUT and Vault - check out LACS online for links to these resources and more.
- Research the organization: Before you conduct your informational interview, research the interviewee's company and position to show your true interest. One of the best ways to research an organization is to read and research their website: review the employer's history, mission, current strategy, and employee profiles. Check out the LACS guide on How to Research Employers for tips.
- List your questions: After you have done your research, you will be able to identify a few areas about which you would like more information. Below are a few general examples of questions often asked in informational interviews, check out our Interview Questions page for a comprehensive list.
- What is a typical day like for your position?
- What would be the most challenging aspect of working in this type of organization?
- What is the typical career path for someone in an entry-level position here?
- What qualities do you look for in a candidate?
- What skills have helped new professionals get started and have success with your organization?
Setting Up The Interview
There are numerous ways to get in contact with the organization you wish to interview. Emails, phone calls and letters are all possible ways to get in contact with someone who can make the interview happen. Looking to see if there is a ‘contact us' or a ‘HR' email on the company's website is a good first step. Make sure to determine whether it's a HR representative or an employee in a specific position that you want to gather information from before reaching out to contact.
Sample: Hello. My name is _________ and I am a student at The University of Texas at Austin considering a future career in ____(the field of interest)____. I am not currently in the job market; however, I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about your career path and advice you have for new professionals as I consider my interest and career options. Would you have 15 to 30 minutes to speak with me about your professional path, your company and to hear your advice?
This is just one example of what your email/phone conversation could sound like. Above all, make sure that it is personal and professional. Be prepared with available times you can meet, and if necessary, to conduct the informational interview right then. Remember: you are asking them to take time out of their schedule to help you, so be as courteous and accommodating as possible.
- Always make it apparent that you are there to gather information about the field/company, not to push your resume on them.
- Have lots of detailed facts and research on the organization. It will help you look professional and demonstrate that you are truly interested in learning about the field.
- Prepare specific questions. The more detailed a question you ask, the more likely you will get a detailed answer.
- Follow up with a personalized thank you letter (email acceptable). Show your gratitude for the time they took out of their schedule to help you. Be sure to proofread the document and use complete sentences.