An informational interview is a meeting initiated by you with someone working in an organization or career field which interests you. An informational interview lets you get realistic information about the real-world challenges and rewards of a profession from someone working in the field and gives you the opportunity to build your network, expand your knowledge of the job market, and learn about potential career paths.
Finding Someone to Interview
- Mentor Network - Includes 450+ people who have volunteered to speak with UB students about careers.
- Professional organizations – Become a member of a professional organization in your field and begin attending meetings and conferences to meet potential mentors.
- Journals or e-newsletters - Sign up for publications to identify important people in your field.
- Professors and academic advisors - Ask your existing contacts to see if they have recommendations in the field.
- Family and friends - Is anyone involved in your field of interest that you could reach out to for an informational interview?
- When you are reaching out to a potential mentor, make sure you use formal communication styles. Even if you are writing the email from your phone, do not use text abbreviations.
- Always mention how you obtained the person’s contact information and that you are a student at UB.
- Present yourself on time, professionally dressed, and prepared with research and questions.
- View this sample LinkedIn message: PDF (185KB) | Word (104KB)
Informational Interview Etiquette
- Be respectful of the mentor’s time and keep your interaction brief unless otherwise arranged.
- If you are meeting if your mentor for a meal or snack, it is expected that you will pay for your share.
- Before leaving, obtain a business card for follow-up purposes. You may also ask your mentor if they know someone else you might speak with about the career field in order to build your network.
- Remember! An informational interview is not a job interview, but is an opportunity to explore interests and start to make connections.
- Write down some basic notes about your informational interview such as the name and title of the mentor, date of the meeting, and what was discussed
- Send your mentor a thank you note. Express your appreciation for the assistance you received and mention one or two specifically helpful points.
- Keep in touch with your mentor! When you make a decision about your career choice, or you find a position, share your news with people you have interviewed. They will want to hear what happened to you.
Questions to Ask During Your Informational Interview
- How did you get to where you are today – what was your career path?
- What do you like most about working in this field and what do you find most challenging?
- What are your responsibilities and what skills do you use in your profession?
- Tell me about your daily routine on the job.
- What are some problems you face and decisions you make?
- How do most people get started in this field?
- What do you think is the ideal educational path to qualify for a position in this profession?
- Do you belong to any professional organizations? Do they have student chapters?
- Do you think this field is growing, with opportunities for employment?
- Can you recommend other people who might be valuable sources of information?