One of the best sources for gathering information about what's happening
in an occupation or an industry is to talk to people working in
the field. This process is called informational or research interviewing.
An informational interview is an interview that you initiate - you
ask the questions. The purpose is to obtain information, not to
get a job.
are some good reasons to conduct good informational interviews:
explore careers and clarify your career goal
discover employment opportunities that are not advertised
expand your professional network
build confidence for your job interviews
access the most up-to-date career information to identify your
professional strengths and weaknesses
below are steps to follow to conduct an informational interview:
the Occupation or Industry You Wish to Learn About Assess your
own interests, abilities, values, and skills, and evaluate labor
conditions and trends to identify the best fields to research.
for the Interview Read all you can about the field prior to the
interview. Decide what information you would like to obtain about
the occupation/industry. Prepare a list of questions that you
would like to have answered.
People to Interview Start with lists of people you already know
- friends, relatives, fellow students, present or former co-workers,
supervisors, neighbors, etc... Professional organizations, the
yellow pages, organizational directories, and public speakers
are also good resources. You may also call an organization and
ask for the name of the person by job title.
the Interview Contact the person to set up an interview: by telephone,
by a letter followed by a telephone call, or by having someone
who knows the person make the appointment for you.
the Interview Dress appropriately, arrive on time, be polite and
professional. Refer to your list of prepared questions; stay on
track, but allow for spontaneous discussion. Before leaving, 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.
Up Immediately following the interview, record the information
gathered. Be sure to send a thank-you note to your contact within
one week of the interview.
Yourself for the Interview - 20 Questions
Prepare a list of your own questions for your informational interview.
Following are some sample questions:
a typical day in this position, what do you do?
training or education is required for this type of work?
personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful
in this job?
part of this job do you find most satisfying? most challenging?
did you get your job?
opportunities for advancement are there in this field?
entry level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
are the salary ranges for various levels in this field?
do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?
there a demand for people in this occupation?
special advice would you give a person entering this field?
types of training do companies offer persons entering this field?
are the basic prerequisites for jobs in this field?
professional journals and organizations would help me learn more
about this field?
do you think of the experience I've had so far in terms of entering
your perspective, what are the problems you see working in this
you could do things all over again, would you choose the same
path for yourself? Why? What would you change?
the information you have about my education, skills, and experience,
what other fields or jobs would you suggest I research further
before I make a final decision?
do you think of my resume? Do you see any problem areas? How would
you suggest I change it?
do you know that I should talk to next? When I call him/her, may
I use your name?