What are Informational Interviews?
Informational interviews are valuable networking tools that allow you to gain insights into different career paths, industries, and specific roles directly from professionals who are already established in those fields. Unlike job interviews, the primary purpose of informational interviews is to gather information, seek advice, and build connections, rather than securing a job offer.
Informational Interview Guide
- Build rapport
- Learn about the contact’s personal career
- Learn about the contact's organization
Remember the goal is not to get a job but to learn more about the career and field, and to network with organization and individuals.
- Start by researching professionals in your desired field or industry.
- Utilize online platforms like WE Connect or LinkedIn to find potential interviewees.
- Ask family, friends, classmates, colleagues, professors and staff for referrals.
- Craft a concise and polite email or LinkedIn connection request introducing yourself, expressing your interest in their career, and requesting a short informational interview.
- Clearly state the purpose of the interview and its non-employment nature.
- Request the informational interview 2-4 weeks out.
- View some examples and templates you can use!
- Before the interview, prepare a list of thoughtful questions about their career journey, challenges, advice for newcomers, and industry trends.
- Tailor your questions to the individual's experiences and expertise.
- Make the questions answerable and open-ended
- Plan to ask 4-5 questions but prepare 6-8.
- Also, don’t be afraid to ask impromptu questions.
- View some examples to get you started.
- During the interview, be respectful of their time and stick to the meeting time.
- Show genuine interest, actively listen, and take notes.
- Remember, it's not about asking for a job; it's about learning from their experiences.
- Before leaving, ask “is there anyone else you think I should talk to?”
- Be respectful of the interviewees time—don’t overextend your stay.
- After the interview, express gratitude with a thank-you email or note.
- Keep the connection alive by periodically staying in touch, updating them on your progress, and showing your appreciation for their guidance.
- Below, you’ll find a sample thank you message to get you started.
Dear [interviewer name],
I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to express my sincere gratitude for taking the time to speak with you yesterday. Our conversation was insightful and provided me with a deeper understanding of a career in social work for the government.
I really appreciated the valuable advice and guidance you shared. Your experiences, challenges, and suggestions have given me a clearer perspective on what to expect and how to navigate this industry. I was particularly inspired by the work you’ve done with youth experiencing homelessness. I hope that I find that kind of purpose in my career.
Thank you again for your generosity in sharing your time and knowledge.
- When you gain more experience in your chosen career, be open to helping others with informational interviews.
- Paying it forward creates a supportive and collaborative professional community!
If you have the contact information of the person you’d like to interview, then you can use the Informational Interview Request example below. If not, you can reach out via LinkedIn—you’ll need to send a LinkedIn Connection Request first though. See the templates below!
How to Request an Informational Interview
Subject: WWU student – Request for informational interview
Dear [connection name],
I hope this email finds you well. My name is [your name], and I am a current WWU student majoring in Psychology. I recently came across your profile in WE Connect as an alum from the Psychology department. I see you’re working as a social worker for the government. This is a career I’m interested in pursuing. I would love to learn more about your career path, what you think are the key skills for success, and any industry trends you foresee.
If you’re available in the coming weeks for a 15–20-minute virtual call, I would really appreciate connecting. If so, please send some preferred meeting times and I’ll send a calendar invite.
Thank you for considering my request. Your perspective would not only be beneficial but also greatly appreciated. I look forward to the opportunity to learn from your expertise.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Want people to accept your LinkedIn requests? Use these 10 templates!
Hi [connection name]: I saw on WWU’s Alumni page that you majored in anthropology and are working in higher ed. I’m interested in working in student affairs and would love to learn more about your experience. Are you available for a quick 20min virtual call to chat about your career path and what you? Thanks!
Subject: Seeking insights: Exploring climate science field - request for informational interview
Dear [email recipient name],
I hope this email finds you well. My name is [your name], and I am currently a sophomore at Western, majoring in Environmental Science. I am reaching out to you because of your impressive background and expertise in the climate science field. As I begin to chart my own career path, I want to ensure I’m preparing for success in this field and would appreciate your insight into what has led to your professional success and which skills I should be building as I continue my education.
Would it be possible to schedule a brief informational interview at your convenience? I am interested in hearing about your journey, the challenges you've overcome, and the skills you consider essential for success in climate science. Your perspective would be valuable to me as I make decisions about my future. I understand that your time is valuable, and I would be grateful for even a 20-minute virtual conversation. If this is something you can accommodate, please let me know a few time slots that work for you, and I will send you a calendar invite.
Thank you very much for considering my request. I look forward to the possibility of connecting with you.
Questions to Ask
- Can you tell me about your career journey and how you got to your current position?
- What does a typical day or week look like in your role?
- What skills and qualities do you believe are essential for success in this industry/position?
- What are the biggest challenges or trends currently affecting this field?
- What advice do you have for someone looking to enter this industry or pursue a similar career path?
- Could you share any tips for building a strong professional network in this field?
- What are some recommended resources (books, websites, courses) for learning more about this industry?
- Are there any professional associations I should connect with to learn more about this industry?
- Can you describe a particularly rewarding project or accomplishment you've been involved in?
- What do you enjoy most about working in this industry, and what keeps you motivated in your role?
- What is the most valuable piece of advice you've received in your career that has helped you succeed?
- Could you provide insights into the work-life balance and job satisfaction commonly found in this industry/role?