A guide to informational interviewing
Informational interviews should be an integral part of your job search strategy. Not only does it involve talking with people who are currently working in the field to gain a better understanding of an occupation or industry, but it's also a key networking tool. One out of every 200 resumes (some studies put the number as high as 1,500 resumes) results in a job offer. One out of every 12 informational interviews, however, results in a job offer. So now that you're ready to conduct those informational interviews, here are some guidelines to make the process a little easier:
- Identity one or more occupations you would like to investigate. Assess your own interests, abilities and skills to identify the best fields to research. Read all you can about the field before the interview.
- Identify people to interview for informational interviews. Start with people you already know: friends, fellow students, present or former co-workers, professors, etc. Professional organizations, the alumni directory, and the Career Development Center are also good resources. There's no one in the world whom you can't try contacting -- people like to help students with job information.
- NEVER ASK FOR A JOB! Informational interviews are not replacements for job interviews. It's not appropriate to ask for a job or even offer your resume during your informational interview. Have your resume handy, however, in case you're asked for one.
- Requesting an interview. Try to request the interview in person or by phone (instead of e-mail) to establish a connection. A sample request might be:
- Research the company prior to your informational interview. Ask only those questions that are appropriate and important to you.
- Preparing for the interview.
- The day before the interview, call to confirm your appointment with the contact person.
- If meeting in person, dress business professional.
- Arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment.
- Make sure to have a pad folio and pen to take notes.
- Bring copies of your resume in case the interviewee requests it.
- During the interview.
- Maintain good eye contact and posture. Be positive in your remarks.
- Keep the conversation friendly, brief, and focused on the contact person's job and career field.
- Ask your contact to suggest names of others who might be helpful to you and ask permission to use your contact’s name when contacting these new contacts.
- After the interview.
- ALWAYS send a thank you note to your contact!
- Follow up with your contact to keep him/her updated on your progress.
- Keep a personal record of your key takeaways from the interview to help evaluate positions.
"Hello, my name is _________ and I'm an MBA student at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. I got your name from ______. You're in a line of work that I'm interested in, and I was hoping that you could help me gain insights into the profession through an informational interview."