Perhaps the single most versatile tool you have available in any job search is the Information Interview. We define the Information Interview as a conversation with an individual who can give you information about a field of work, an organization, or a particular job that interests you. An informational interview is an interview that you initiate - you ask the questions. The purpose is to obtain information, not to get a job.
An Information Interview may serve any one or more of these purposes:
- To help you decide the field of work you want to enter
- To identify organizations and people where you might like to seek job interviews at a later time
- To discover employment opportunities that are not advertised
- To help you prepare for a job interview by becoming better informed about a specific job and its responsibilities
- To expand your professional network
- To build confidence for your job interviews
Click on the links below to learn more about how to do an Information Interview:
- You will gain much confidence after completing several information interviews. We promise you! Confidence gains are the single most reliable result of information interview, regardless of the student or desired field of work.
- The people you interview will sometimes recommend you to others, thereby obtaining you additional information interviews.
- You will gain valuable information and insights which you need to decide among career or job possibilities.
- You may even hear about some job openings while you are information interviewing, because the word-of-mouth network is always strong, and some people will try to help you with tips about jobs vacancies.
The best way to prepare for an information interview is as follows:
- Use printed materials (in Career Services, at libraries, and on the Internet) to find out everything you can about a field of work or a particular job, BEFORE considering an information interview.
- Decide the questions you most need answered in person - questions that you were not able to answer from printed materials.
To prepare yourself for each information interview that you will be seeking, consider these items:
- I am considering work in the ______________________________ field.
- Identify local organizations where I may seek information interviews include.........
- Individuals who may have information about the field I plan on joining are ........
The following categories represent possible areas of questioning for the information interview. For at least five (5) of these categories, write a particular question you would like to ask:
- Where employed - Does your company have branches in Colorado?
- Problems of job - How much pressure is there in news reporting?
Questions I want to ask in the information interview:
- Field of work
- Credential requirements
- Nature of work
- Where employed
- Advancement potential
- Related field of work
- Personal responses
- Rewards of the job
- Problems of the job
- Skills developed
- Advancement potential
- Uncertainties of the job
- Greatest disappointments
- Greatest surprises
- Specific job
- Major responsibilities
- Key problems
- Criteria for hiring
- Academic requirements
- Nature of the work
- Resources available to do the job
- Training opportunities
- Get the telephone number of the organization where you would like to do an information interview. Call and ask for the name of the person with whom you would like to speak ( Who is head of the _____ department?)
- Telephone the person you want to talk with. If he/she is not available, ask for someone else who works in that department.
- Say to this person: "I am interested in the kind of work that your organization does, and would like to know more about it. I am not looking for a job. Instead, I need information and possibly advice about how to get into this field and what the work is like. Could I meet with you at your convenience to ask a few questions?"
- If this person cannot meet with you, ask him/her if someone else in the department would be willing to talk with you.
- Note: You can also request information interviews IN PERSON. The more informal the organization (smaller firms tend to be less formal), the more likely you might get an information interview on a walk-in basis.
Hello, my name is _______________and I am a senior ________________ major at West Texas A&M University. As part of my career planning efforts, I have been researching occupations of interest and I am most interested in exploring work as a _________ I would be most grateful if you would be willing to meet with me to tell me all about the work that you do. What would be a good day and time for you to meet with me? (Assure the person that you won't take up much of his/her time.
After the meeting, don't forget to send a brief thank you note to the individual you met with. (See sample below.)
- When you seek an information interview, make it clear that you are not looking for a job. If the person believes you are trying to get a job interview in a sneaky way, he/she will be reluctant to talk with you.
- Do not use the information interview as an opportunity to push your resume onto someone.
- The information interview is an opportunity for a pleasant, informal conversation in which the person acquaints you with his/her field of work and specific job responsibilities. It is also a chance for you to ask for advice about the best ways to enter this field.
The guidelines above may seem obvious, but they are necessary, because sometimes people misuse or even abuse the concept of an information interview. People in the working world are familiar with information interviewing by now, so they expect you to be prepared, respectful of their time, and honest in your intentions. As long as you follow these guidelines, you will have a lot of useful conversations and will make some contacts along the way.
- Get as much information as you can about the field or job from printed materials BEFORE you seek an information interview. Ask only those questions that you have not had answered from printed materials.
- Know the specific questions that you want to ask. Have these questions written down, so you can locate them easily (it is OK to have notes with you).
- Have your first information interviews with people who are easy to contact, either because you know them or because they are easily available. This will help you get accustomed to the process, so that you can approach less familiar people later.
- Do not assume that people will take a lot of time to talk with you. Be respectful of their time. If he/she resists a particular question you have asked, move to another question without pursuing the first one.
- Listen attentively. Do not interrupt even when a different question occurs to you while he/she is talking.
- Ask only those questions which are most important to you. You may not have time to ask the others.
- Ask for referrals to other people and/or materials that can extend your search for relevant information.
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. Always analyze the information you've gathered. Adjust your job search, resume, and career objectives if necessary.
Sample Thank You Letter
June 9, 20xx
100 Buffalo Way
Canyon, TX 79016
Ms. Jane Doe
Information Processing Manager
Amarillo, TX 79120
Dear Ms. Doe:
I am writing to let you know how much I enjoyed meeting with you on Thursday and learning more about the field of Information Processing Management. Through our discussion, I now have a much clearer understanding of the options open to me within my area of concentration at West Texas A&M University.
Many thanks for your time. I realize that your time is valuable and I appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge and experience with me.