Informational Interviews

An informational interview is a meeting in which you to talk to someone about their career. Informational interviews can take place in person, over the phone, or by email.

While informational interviews can lead to job or internship opportunities, it’s important to remember to conduct interviews with the goal of learning, not simply getting a job offer.

To arrange an informational interview, send a message to someone you’d like to talk to. If you’re not sure what to write, here is a sample message:

Dear Mr. Griffith,

I found your name and contact information on Georgetown’s Alumni Career Network. I am a rising junior in the Georgetown College, and hope to pursue a career in secondary education upon graduation. Given that you have over five years of experience within this field, I would appreciate the chance to ask you a few questions about your career path and your experience in the public school system in Tennessee.

I realize that this time of year is likely a busy one for you. I am hopeful that you would be willing to speak with me over the phone or via email at some point during the next two weeks. Please let me know if you are able to talk with me and if so what method of communication would be preferable.

Thank you very much in advance for your time and insight.

Sincerely,

Susan Braunlin

Suggestions for informational interview questions

The content of your informational interview will vary depending on your goals and the interviewee’s background. Do some research on your contact and his or her organization, and prepare questions that will help you build on your research.

We’ve collected some questions you might consider asking to help make the most of your information interview.

Preparation
  • How did you choose this career field?
  • What types of experience are essential?
  • What types of employment or internships would you recommend for someone who wants to make a career in the field?
  • What kinds of entry-level opportunities exist in the field?
  • Is graduate school important for someone in this field?
Present Job
  • Describe a typical work week and a typical day.
  • What skills or talents are most essential for effective job performance?
  • What are the toughest problems you have to deal with?
  • What is the most rewarding part of your job?
  • What obligations does your work place on your personal time?
  • How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, schedule, vacation time, and where you live?
Nature of Organization
  • How would you define the office culture?
  • What is the average length of time employees stay with the organization?
  • What is the size of the organization?
  • What is the organizational structure?
  • What type of training does the organization provide?
  • What new products or services are being developed?
  • How does this organization compare with its competitors?
Future Alternatives
  • How rapidly is your field growing?
  • If you decided to make a career change, what other types of work would you consider?
  • When people leave your organization, what kinds of things do they go on to do?
  • Is a graduate degree an important part of advancement in your field?
Job Hunting Strategies
  • Does your organization have a timeline for posting jobs?
  • How do people find out about jobs in your industry? Are they advertised online? By word of mouth? At conferences? In professional publications?
  • What specific aspects of my background should I highlight or sell the most?
  • What organizations would you recommend I pursue?
  • Is there a person in your organization I should contact first?
  • May I use your name when I contact them?
  • If I submit an application with your organization, are there ways you recommend I follow up?

Matching/Selling Your Background to a Specific Organization

  • For which entry-level positions would I be best suited?
  • What would be the appropriate way to pursue these positions?
  • Who is the person to whom I should address my cover letter?
  • May I use your name when I contact them?
  • What is a reasonable salary range for entry-level positions?

After the Informational Interview

Keep a record of your informational interviews. Names, titles, contact information, dates, and topics you discussed. After the informational interview, send a thank you note immediately. Email and regular mail are both acceptable.