What Is an Informational Interview and How to Ask for One?
Informational interviews are an underrated job search strategy and a great networking tool that everyone can make use of, whether they are fresh graduates or professionals considering a career change.
SO WHAT IS AN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW?
An informational interview is a networking technique that allows you to connect with people from companies and industries you’re interested in to gather information about what you need to succeed in your career field, learn about a new field or talk to someone about their career path.
HOW TO ASK FOR ONE?
Make a list of companies you’d love to work for and of job titles or positions you’d be interested in, then look for people who either work at those companies and industries or people who have similar roles to the ones you've listed.
Start by looking for people in your network, university alumni group or people you have shared connections with—they will be more likely to want to meet with you. LinkedIn is a great tool to use for this part.
Once you identify the person’s contact details, it’s best to send them a message to their email. Here is an example of an email template you can use to request an informational interview:
I hope this email finds you well! My name is (your name) and I am reaching out because I am interested in learning more about working at (company name).
Currently, I (explain what you do or what you are interested in). I'd love to meet with you in person or over the phone to hear your perspective on this industry and what it's like to work at your company. I’ll be happy to meet you whenever is convenient for you next week.
I can only imagine how busy you must be, so even 15-20 minutes would be so appreciated
Looking forward to hearing back from you.
WHAT TO ASK DURING AN INTERVIEW?
Congratulations, you’ve landed an informational interview! Now what? To make the most out of your interview, you need to do as much research as possible on the person and company you are interviewing and prepare some questions to ask on the day.
Here are some examples of the many questions you can ask during the interview:
- How did you get started in this field?
- How did you get a job at this company?
- What responsibilities does your position entail?
- What are your favorite/least favorite aspects of your job?
- What are the most challenging/rewarding parts of your job?
Be sure to listen attentively and show that you are engaged by asking follow-up questions.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
Be gracious and let your interviewee know you appreciate their time by sending them a thank-you note. Make it brief and straightforward.
Now get out there and start networking!