Informational Interviewing is the opportunity to sit down with a professional in your field of choice and ask how they got to where they are today, get advice on breaking into the industry and learn about qualifications you may need and what the day to day work might look like without the added pressure of professionally interviewing and hoping to land a job.
Why should I do it?
Talking with someone currently in the field is the best way to know what is really happening in your industry and what qualifications you may need to be a competitive applicant. It is also a way to make sure you really like the industry you are considering and expands your network, creating more opportunities! This also can help you build your confidence and practice speaking/introducing yourself professionally.
I’m kind of an introvert…
Being prepared will help you feel more confident! Dress professionally & do your research beforehand. Review their LinkedIn, the company website and bring a list of questions to ask. In person is preferred as it will better create a networking connection for you in the future but you can also do a phone call instead. Limit yourself to 20 minutes (remember they are taking time out of their work day for you). Below is a list of sample questions to consider.
How do I find someone to interview?
The best resources are connections through family, friends, the McCafferty Career Center, Emmanuel College alumni, your professors, peers and LinkedIn. Make a list of 10 people in your network and speak to them or see if they can connect you with anyone.
How do I reach out?
Using the connections listed above or LinkedIn, make an email or in person introduction and then ask the professional if they would be willing to have a brief (20-30 min) informational interview with you and state your goal of the conversation (ex: “I am currently an Emmanuel College Junior studying Graphic Design and I would like to learn more about the industry”). Schedule a time and location.
If you don’t know or have a connection to a professional it is still ok to reach out and message them on LinkedIn to introduce yourself and see if they would be willing to have a conversation with you.
You are not requesting and they are not offering a job/internship however the conversation could lead to an opportunity or they may remember your name when an opportunity does arise. Keep in touch and maintain this connection! You never know what opportunities could arise in the future!
- Like any interview, do you research!
- Look this person up on LinkedIn or the company website, take notes, and prep some questions you would like to ask.
- Treat this like a real interview, act & dress professionally.
- Take notes and be prepared to answer some of their questions.
- Actively listen to what they are saying, maintain eye contact, nod your head and gesture to show you are listening.
- Ask follow up questions.
- Send a thank you note within 24 hours! Thank them for their time and how interesting you found the meeting.
- Follow up on any loose end from your conversation.
- Connect with them on LinkedIn and maintain the relationship by keeping them updated on your progress.
It is a two-way street – when you notice their progress or change in job/title reach out to congratulate them or check in.
- How did you get to your current position? And what jobs did you have before this one?
- What did you career path look like? (similar to the above question)
- What did you study? (If this can be found on LinkedIn don’t ask this – do your research!)
- Why were you interested in working in this industry?
- How has your industry changed since you’ve entered it?
- Can you tell me about a typical day looks like?
- What is the most rewarding and most challenging part of your position?
- What advice do you have for someone starting in the field?
- What type of training or education would I need for a career in this field?
- What do you like most about your career? Least?
- What skills do you think I need to develop to be the most marketable applicant?
- What types of professional development opportunities are you involved in? What do you suggest?