Informational Interviews

An informational interview is a form of networking which allows you to meet professionals in your field, gather information to make career decisions, and obtain referrals to other professionals. It is not a job interview. You should never ask for a job. You are trying to approximate work experience by talking to people who are currently in the field. It is an opportunity to:

  • Get advice from someone already in the field.
  • Learn about required skills, so you can target your resume.
  • Be in touch with someone who might be in a position to recommend you for a job. Many jobs are filled through personal contact and networking.

How to find a contact and set up an informational interview

  • The most likely sources are family, friends, faculty, alumni, and Career Services. The best way to obtain an informational interview is through a referral.
  • Write, e-mail, or telephone the contact to request a meeting. If you have sent a written request, follow up with a telephone call. Tell the person how you got his/her name. If you have something in common, such as attending NYIT, or a mutual acquaintance, mention this.
  • Say you want to meet for a brief time (15 to 20 minutes). Do not use the word interview. Say, “I am interested in getting into the field and would like to talk with you to learn about your work and to get your professional advice. I would like to set up a time when we could meet. "Fill in the blank" suggested you might be willing to talk with me about your work.”
  • Prepare for an informational interview as you would for an actual interview. Dress professionally. Walk and talk with confidence. Greet the employer with a handshake. Research the employer. You can ask the person if he/she can suggest anyone else for you to contact. If you are going to do several informational interviews, you may want to organize the contact information into a database.

Suggested questions for the informational interview

  • Please describe your job. What do you do in a typical day?
  • How did you find your job?
  • What percentage of your time do you spend alone, with superiors, with peers, with subordinates, working in a team, attending meetings?
  • What are the personal satisfactions and dissatisfactions concerned with your occupation?
  • What courses in college were the most helpful?
  • What is the best way to enter this occupation?
  • What are some related career areas?
  • What do you think is the most important skill you need to do this job well?
  • Are there any experiences, training, or skills that would best prepare me for this career?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of your career?
  • What do you like best about this job?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement?
  • Is there anything else I should know about this particular career?
  • Can you suggest anyone else I could talk to about this career?
  • What professional organizations are related to your field?
  • How does your career affect your lifestyle? (Life outside of work)
  • Some people might consider salary a private matter. Always ask about salary in terms of a range. Do not ask this question in a formal interview. Consider asking about the entry-level salary range for this position?
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