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Information Interviews

What is an information interview?

  • The gathering of career, organization, and field information by one-on-one conversation with a professional

Why conduct an information interview?

  • Make a great impression face to face – and on your own terms -- with someone you might wish to approach in the future about a specific job
  • Learn the language and issues of fields of interest
  • Open doors -- get referrals to other people to interview and learn from
  • Increase exponentially your knowledge of job titles and organizations
  • Show your stuff – demonstrate initiative, good manners, curiosity, and passion

Getting started:

  • Utilize social media (especially LinkedIn), professional associations and directories to make a list of people who are in positions, careers or organizations that interest you
  • Make an appointment to meet with each person:
    • Introduce yourself
    • Explain that you are conducting information interviews to learn more about their field and that you'd like to pick their brain
    • Ask for 15-20 minutes at a time of their convenience
  • Research the person and field ahead of time and prepare a list of questions

Conducting the information interview:

  • Dress professionally and be respectful of everyone in the office
  • Bring a hard copy of your resume, but don't offer it unless requested
  • Ask open-ended questions
    • Avoid the "j" word, as in "Do you have any jobs?" Sometimes the most effective way to get a job is not to ask for one
  • Take notes as the person speaks
  • Thank the person for their time and ask if they can suggest anyone for you to contact in order to learn more – be sure to ask if you can use your interviewee's name when you contact the person they recommend

Following the information interview:

  • Send a thank-you letter or e-mail within 24 hours of the information interview
  • Contact the names you were given as referrals and arrange more information interviews
  • Keep previous interviewees updated on your process
Last Updated: 4/3/17