The Do’s and Don’ts of Informational Interviews

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 | Anonymous
Two hands, one giving a thumbs up and one giving a thumbs down.

Talking with employers can be intimidating at first. But it shouldn’t be! Informational interviews have been a great way for me to connect with employers. 

Written by Rachael O'Meara, Peer Career Educator

Informational interviews are short conversations, where you get to ask professionals about their career experiences. If you come prepared with questions and a smile, they can be a great way to network and learn about new opportunities. They are the perfect tools for budding professionals. You’re letting people do the one thing people love most—talk about themselves.

 

Do’s 

1. Do your research! Use LinkedIn and mutual connections to learn about the professional before the informational interview. This will help you ask educated questions about their experiences.

2. Do prepare questions! A list of solid questions about your informational interviewee’s career will help you avoid awkward silences. Most of the time you will deviate from the list after the first one or two questions, but it’s still useful to have this list as a backup!

3. Do be gracious! This professional is taking time out of their day to meet with you, so make sure to be as gracious and polite as possible.

4. Do ask for more contacts! Finally landed an informational interview in a new field? This is a golden opportunity to have someone connect you with more professionals. Ask politely if they have anyone else they think it would be good for you to reach out to!

5. Do follow up! Send a gracious thank you note referencing some of the fantastic advice you received in the informational interview. Often the professional will make themselves available for future questions, and you’ll be able to reach out to them again later. 

 

Don’ts

1.      Don’t disagree! I’ve been in several informational interviews when people have told me to go to graduate school or switch majors. These aren’t things I planned to do, but I didn’t disagree with their advice. I heard them out! It helped me think some things out, and I thanked them for their advice.

2.      Don’t ask for a job! It’s not the time and it’s not the place. The person you’re talking to is most likely not even connected with the company’s hiring process. Make sure your resume is polished in case they ask for it, but informational interviews are about career exploration, not career searching.

3.      Don’t lose their business card! Keep track of your contacts. Write down where you met, the dates you met, where you are working at the time and where they work.

4.      Don’t forget to pass on the love! As you gain internship experience, you’ll find yourself in a new position. You’ll be able to connect others with professionals, and soon you’ll be able to give informational interviews yourself. Spread the love!