One of the most effective methods of obtaining more detailed information about a particular career is to conduct an information interview with someone who holds the position that interests you. The benefits are numerous:
- allows you to determine whether the career, industry or company matches your skills, interests and expectations
- confirms information that you have read and provides information not available in written form
- assists you in organizing your future job search by revealing the best ways to get into the profession
- provides you with tips and information about the job and career field that could be of great value in preparing applications for work and in a job interview
- gives you an opportunity to see the organization from the inside.
Prepare for information interviews well in advance. You must begin with a self assessment. The better you know yourself the more likely you will pursue a career that is both enjoyable and rewarding.
Next, conduct a thorough search for information about the careers that interest you and on any organization you intend to contact. There are several sources that could provide the names and addresses of people with whom you might set up an information interview.
- Employer Directories
- Yellow Pages
- Government Ministries and Departments
- Volunteer Directory
- Professional Associations and Journals
Add to your list other people that you know using your Networking and Contacts list.
Contact the organization that interests you. Ask for the name, job title and phone number of the person doing the job you wish to investigate.
How to Set Up an Interview
- Telephone or write the person you wish to interview well before the date the interview would take place. Introduce yourself and explain who you are (e.g., a student, a person thinking of changing jobs). Perhaps, mention how you found the person's name.
- State the type of work you are interested in researching, the reason why, and the amount of time it would take to conduct the interview (usually 20 - 30 minutes). If the person is unable to meet with you, ask for a referral.
- Thank the person for speaking with you and confirm the date, time and location of the interview. If that person cannot see you, express your regret. State your appreciation for any referral names given to you.
The person I would like to speak to about his/her job is:
I have confirmed the arrangements for my Information Interview as follows:
Date and Time of Interview:
Address where Interview will take place:
Conducting the Interview
Good questions to ask in an information interview include:
- What is your level of freedom to solve problems and take action on the job?
- Tell me about your working conditions, e.g., physical, environmental, sensory, stress.
- What special knowledge, skills, training, or experience did you have or need for this job?
- Has the work changed recently due to technology, marketplace, competition, etc.?
- What do you like least/most about your job?
- How does your work contribute to the organization’s overall goals or mission?
- Is there a “career path” in your field?
- What potential and downside do you see for this field in the future?
- What is the salary for entry-level and more advanced positions in the field?
- How did you find your job?
- Can you suggest anyone else I can talk with about this field?
You requested the interview. Be prepared to ask questions. Be concise so as not to waste the person's time. Allow the person an opportunity to provide additional information. Use the Job Search sheets to keep track of your contacts and to add notes during your meetings. If you have not already seen the work area, ask for a tour.
The purpose of the interview is to collect information that will allow you to make informed career decisions. Do not take the chance of embarrassing your self or upsetting a potential employer by using the information interview to ask for a job or set up an employment interview.
After the Interview
- Add more information to the notes you took during the interview.
- Always send a thank-you letter promptly (within 1-2 days after the interview).