Informational Interviews

Career success musings, May 28, 2021 #careeradvancement #informationalinterviews

On conducting Informational Interviews as a key strategy to make yourself ready for internships and full-time jobs.

An underutilized strategy to prepare to succeed in your internship and job application, interview, and successful start is informational interviews. Most professionals like to talk about their own career journeys and what they have learned along the way. We also like to teach professionals entering the field things we wish we had known when we started in our careers.

Setting up informational interviews is easy. E-mail your professional contact and ask, “May I have 30-45 minutes of your time on the phone/Zoom to ask you about your career journey and what I can learn from it?” Once they say yes, send your contact information (phone no. or Zoom link) ahead of time. Confirm the meeting the day before.

Prepare your list of questions (see below).

Dress professionally (not in your jammies) even for a phone interview. This puts you in a “serious” mindset and will change the tone of your voice and your non-verbal communication.

Practice listening without interruptions. Take notes.

Send a thank you note.

Teach your learning. Write a short post on LinkedIn about what you learned, and mention the person you interviewed if they are on LinkedIn.

Conduct 2-3 informational interviews per week. They help you learn about the field, and also help you practice interview skills (listening, asking questions, presenting your perspective if asked). Informational interviews also help in landing internships and jobs that you may not have been aware of.

Sample list of informational interview questions:

  • What are your main responsibilities as a…?
  • What is a typical day (or week) like for you?
  • What do you like most about your work?
  • What kinds of problems do you deal with?
  • What kinds of decisions do you make?
  • How does your position fit within the organization/career field/industry?
  • How does your job affect your general lifestyle?
  • What current issues and trends in the field should I know about/be aware of?
  • What are some common career paths in this field?
  • What kinds of accomplishments tend to be valued and rewarded in this field?
  • How did you become interested in this field?
  • How did you begin your career?
  • How do most people get into this field? What are common entry-level jobs?
  • What steps would you recommend I take to prepare to enter this field?

(Sample list of questions from

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