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Conducting an Informational Interview

An informational interview is an interview that you initiate - you ask the questions. The purpose is to obtain information, not to get a job.

One of the best sources for gathering information about what's happening in an occupation or an industry is to talk to people working in the field.

1. Identify the Occupation or Industry You Wish to Learn About

Assess your own interests, abilities, values, and skills, and evaluate labor conditions and trends to identify the best fields to research.

2. Prepare for the Interview

Read all you can about the field prior to the interview. Decide what information you would like to obtain about the occupation/industry. Prepare a list of questions that you would like to have answered.

3. Identify People to Interview

Start with lists of people you already know - friends, relatives, fellow students, present or former co-workers, supervisors, neighbors, etc.

LinkedIn, professional organizations,  organizational directories, and public speakers are also good resources. You may also call an organization and ask for the name of the person by job title.

4. Arrange the Interview

Contact the person to set up an interview by phone, email or having someone who knows the person make the appointment for you.

5. Conduct the Interview

Dress appropriately, arrive on time, and be polite and professional. Refer to your list of prepared questions; stay on track, but allow for spontaneous discussion. If you are having trouble preparing a list of questions, click here for some examples of what you may consider asking. 

Before leaving, ask your contact to suggest names of others who might be helpful to you and ask permission to use your contact's name when contacting these new contacts.

6. Follow Up

Immediately following the interview, record the information gathered. Be sure to send a thank you note to your contact within one week of the interview.