An Informational Interview can provide you with the opportunity to:
- learn about an occupation, including skills required, to help you in your decision making
- develop your communications skills and self-confidence in talking with professional people in a low-pressure interview environment
- learn the occupational “buzzwords” unique to the career field of your choice
- gain valuable networking contacts to utilize when you are doing your actual job search
- develop basic skills similar to a targeted job search, which you will be conducting later
Informational interviews work because most people:
- Enjoy talking about their jobs and career fields
- Are flattered that you ask their advice to assist you with your own career and future
- Are emphatic about career transitions because they have experienced them
- Like to help others because it makes them feel good
Prepare for the interview
Know what you want to accomplish
The primary objective of informational interviews is to investigate a specific career field so you can make a more informed career decision. Those decisions will help you choose a potential contact.
Find someone to interview
Check out Blugold Success Stories to search for an alum in your area of interest. These alumni have volunteered to be a resource for you and answer your questions.
Another way is to tap into your own personal network. If you need help finding someone to do an informational interview with, contact Career Services and schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor.
Prepare for the interview
Decide and plan ahead of time what you want to ask your contacts. Come with specific questions. Even though you are looking for information rather than a job, this same organization might have an opening in the future that you would be interested in. Being prepared will help you make a good first impression.
If you are meeting in person
What to Wear
Business casual dress has been a hot topic in the office setting ever since it was introduced and accepted as code of dress in the workplace. It can be defined as “A comfortably relaxed version of classic business attire.” Although there are some highly debatable suggestions for what does and does not fit this definition, here are some concrete suggestions.
What NOT to wear:
- Sport team jackets, shirts or any other “logo” clothing
- Sweat shirts and sweat pants, athletic “tube” socks, running clothes
- Hiking boots, athletic shoes or sandals
- Hats or caps of any kind
- Very short skirts, bare shoulders, tight sweater tops or any kind of glitter
What you should wear:
- Khakis, chinos, or gabardine trousers
- Shirts with collars (either polo-style or button down)
- Sweaters with collared shirts underneath
- Casual dress shoes with dress socks
- Slacks, skirts, or dress shorts (top of the knee) with coordinating tops
- A jacket, sweater or over-blouse to “finish” the outfit
- Flat leather shoes with coordinating trouser socks or hose
- Makeup and appropriate accessories
If you are communicating via e-mail
Prepare your e-mail carefully. You may want to limit the number of questions so as not to make the response too lengthy for the contact. If you make a good impression, it is likely that he/she will offer to be available if you have additional questions.
Be sure to have someone you trust read the e-mail and check it for errors, professionalism, length, and content.
If you are communicating over the phone, dress nicely. This helps your confidence on the phone. Be sure to smile while you speak to the contact.
Write every contact you interview a thank you letter as soon as possible. Mention something that you found particularly interesting or helpful. Some contacts may ask you to stay in touch so they can see how your search is going. Take advantage of this.