Guidelines for Information Interviewing

What is an information interview?

  • A conversation with someone who works in a field or at an organization that is of interest to you. These conversations may be conducted in person, over the phone, or through email.
  • It is NOT a job interview and your goal should not be to ask for employment.

Why conduct informational interviews?

  • They are a great way to gain insight into the organization or field because you are obtaining firsthand information from a current professional and possibly provide referrals to job leads.
  • They can enhance your professional network, expand your knowledge of the job market, and provide job search tips.

Who might find information interviews helpful?

Just about everyone, especially individuals seeking to:

  • Choose a major and/or make career decisions
  • Learn how majors relate to a particular career
  • Learn about an organization and/or geographical area
  • Research an industry
  • Grow their network of professional contacts

How do you find people to interview?

  • Your current network may include family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, faculty, classmates and even professionals such as your doctor.
  • Search for employer contacts using CareerShift, a job search portal that includes professional contact information.
  • Connect with recruiters, industry experts, and potential employers using social media sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.
  • Join the CDC LinkedIn group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/5044525) or the Buffalo State College Alumni Association LinkedIn group (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/85089/profile) to connect with alumni in your field.
  • Attend career fairs, employer information sessions, and networking events.
  • Become active in professional organizations and student chapters related to your field.
  • Attend conferences and workshops to meet people in your career area.
  • Ask faculty members if they have names of professionals and/or recent graduates to contact

How do I make contact with the person I would like to interview?

Most initial contacts are made via email or over the phone. The following example is a possible way to begin the conversation.

“My name is _______ and I was referred to you by _______. I am a student at Buffalo State College and am considering a career in _________. I have already conducted some research and am interested in learning more about_______. If you are willing to assist me, I would genuinely appreciate the opportunity to discuss ________ further. I am happy to continue the conversation over email or I can make myself available for a phone conversation or meeting at your convenience. Please accept my sincere appreciation for any assistance you are able to provide.”

  • If they prefer to have a phone conversation, make sure to schedule a day/time that is convenient for both of you.
  • If it is not a good time for them to talk (if making a phone call), ask when it would be a better time.
  • If they would prefer to meet, offer to schedule a time that works best for them.

What else should I know about informational interviews?

  • All of your written correspondence should use professional language and be grammatically correct.
  • Be on time, dress professionally, and have research and questions prepared.
  • As the interview begins, re-state that the purpose of your call or visit is to learn from a professional.
  • Ask if they know someone else you might speak with about the career field and if you can use their name as the referral source.
  • DO NOT at any time, ask for a job.

What should I do after my interview?

  • Write a thank you note to express your appreciation for the assistance you received and mention one or two helpful points you talked about during your interview.

What questions should be asked during an interview?

Introduction

  • What has your career path been?
  • What attracted you to this career path?

Industry/Profession

  • What are some typical majors in your field?
  • What previous professional experiences have helped you most in this role?
  • What’s something that would surprise people about your day to day?
  • What’s one thing you wish somebody would’ve told you before going into this field?
  • Do the demands of your job allow for work/life balance?

Success

  • What are some professional organizations related to this profession?
  • What are some of the biggest rewards of your position?
  • How would you describe somebody who would excel in this career?

Growth

  • Do you have any advice as I begin my job search in this field?
  • What’s most important to prepare for a role like yours?
  • Can you suggest other people who might be valuable sources of information?
  • May I use your name as a referral?

Career Development Center

Buffalo State College  •  1300 Elmwood Avenue  •  Cleveland Hall 306
Buffalo, New York 14222  •  Phone: (716) 878-5811  •  Fax: (716) 878-3152

askcdc@buffalostate.edu