Informational Interviews

Informational interviewing is one method for gathering information about careers you are interested in.  

How do I obtain an informational interview?

  • Start with the people you know.  Ask family members and friends to refer you to people they know that are doing the work you are interested in.
  • Talk to professors who may have colleagues or former students you could contact.
  • When approaching people for an informational interview, explain that you are a student interested in learning more about their profession, the training necessary, and any tips they could share about being successful in their industry.
  • Do not ask for a job lead, until you have established a good relationship/rapport with the professional.

Tips for preparing for the informational interview:

  • Make a good first impression.  A good first impression may lead to additional contacts!
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Follow up on all leads given by the professional.  When people offer, take them up on it.
  • Prepare a list of questions prior to your meeting.

Some questions to ask during informational interview:

  • Please describe your career path--how did each job lead to the next?
  • How did you decide to pursue this path?
  • What is the employment outlook in your field?
  • What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
  • What do you find most enjoyable?
  • What are your responsibilities?
  • Describe your work environment.
  • Why do people leave this field or company?
  • What educational opportunities would you recommend for someone who wants to advance in your field?
  • What qualifications do you seek?
  • How do most people enter this profession?
  • How can students find summer opportunities in this field?
  • Where can I get up-to-date information on salaries, employers and industry issues?
  • What professional journals and organizations should I tap into?

Adapted from PaperClip Communications, "Career Choices:  are you on the right path?"