The best way to learn about a career is to talk to someone who’s actually in it every day! After you’ve found connections from your friends, family, and LinkedIn contact them to schedule a brief face-to-face or phone informational interview.
The purpose of an informational interview is to learn more about an industry or career field, not to ask for an internship or job. When you call to schedule the informational interview tell your contact about your interest in their field and your curiosity to learn more.
Once the interview is scheduled you will need to prepare insightful questions to ask your contact as well as explanations about why you’re interested in this field. You can use this list of questions to help you begin but make sure you also research the company and prepare questions specific to their work. Make sure you can clearly highlight why you want to take this career path and what strengths you have to contribute to that specific line of work. Remember, you’re not trying to get a job, just trying to better understand the field while building your professional network and practicing your interview skills.
In preparation for your informational interview, make sure you:
- Know your skills, interests, qualifications, and goals and can articulate them.
- Have a 1 – 2 minute pitch prepared that succinctly describes your background and what your goals are. If you need help developing your elevator speech check out our Elevator Speech Worksheet.
- Know what it is you want to take away from the conversation.
- Be polite, professional, and thankful. Send thank you notes after meetings or conversations.
- Keep in touch. After being introduced to new people, follow-up with a short communication such as an e-mail or a phone call.
As you begin to reach out to your network, consider using this Networking Tracking Tool to help you keep all of your opportunities and contacts in order.