As the name implies, an informational interview is one you conduct with a professional in a
specific field for information only to learn about career options while making valuable contacts
and building your professional network along the way. As we all know, in today’s competitive
and ever-changing job market, “it’s not what you know but whom you know.” The more people
who are familiar with you, your qualifications and your career interests, the more doors will
open for you when the time comes to land that job…whether it be now or two or three years
down the road. So whether you are a freshman deciding on a major or a senior preparing to
launch a job search, this powerful strategy can work for you!
STEP 1: IDENTIFY POTENTIAL
Start with you own personal network by asking family,
friends, roommates, past employers and anyone
else for names of individuals within occupations that
interest you. If you find yourself coming up empty,
you may identify contacts by calling companies that
STEP 2: MAKE CONTACT BY
PHONE OR LETTER
Initiate communication with your potential contact
over the phone or with a letter. Explain who you
are, why you are contacting him or her, and how you
were referred. Be very specific about your request for
information only, NOT a job. You may be pleasantly
surprised - most people find talking about themselves
irresistible. For further assistance on developing cover
letters or making contact, call Career Services to
schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor!
STEP 3: CONDUCT
Gather some basic information about the respective
career or organization to be able to ask intelligent
questions. For information on the industry and field,
consult the Occupational Outlook Handbook and
a multitude of other career exploration materials
available in the Career Resource Library. For information
on a specific company, consult the company files and
the World Wide Web available in the Career Resources
STEP 4: DEVELOP QUESTIONS
The secret to successful informational interviewing
is to ask your contacts for information or leads,
NOT a job. Ask open-ended questions to avoid yes/
no answers. Your questions should demonstrate
your commitment to making an educated decision
about your career, and should cover such topics as
organizational culture, current issues or trends in
the field, etc. Please refer to the attached sheet for
sample informational interview questions.
STEP 5: CONDUCT THE
The typical informational interview will be 20 - 30
minutes long. You should let the interview roam freely in the allotted time period. Establish contact in the
beginning by restating your purpose and explaining
the types of questions you will be asking. You should
dress professionally and take a pad of paper to jot
down notes as you go.
STEP 6: FOLLOW-UP AFTER THE
Send a thank you letter! Inform your contact what
steps you have taken to apply the advice you received, or merely express your appreciation and
state that you will be in touch when further action is
needed. Remember, this individual is now part of your
personal network and has the power to assist you in
the long run…don’t overlook this common professional courtesy.
» How did you get into this field?
» Which majors are most successful with securing
employment in this field?
» How would you describe a typical day/week on the
» What are the most satisfying aspects of your job?
» What frustrations or drawbacks do you experience in
» How would you describe the work environment?
Please be specific in terms of work pressure, deadlines,
routines, and new activities.
» How often do you travel and for how long?
» What percentage of your time is spent utilizing
computers? Interacting with people? Writing reports?
» How much contact do you have with people outside
of your organization? What is you relationship to
» Do you ever have to represent your employer at afterhours social functions? Do you have control over this?
» How does your career affect your lifestyle? (the
amount of work, your material needs, time for
leisure, travel, outside interests, and family)
» What are the latest developments and primary issues
in this field today?
» How do you see the jobs in t field changing over the
next five to ten years?
» Which other career areas do you see as being related
to you work?
» What are the trade/professional groups to which
you belong, and which do you find most beneficial
to your work? Do any of them assist college seniors
interested in entry-level; positions in your field?
» What educational degrees, licenses, or other
credentials are required for entry and advancement in
you kind of work? Are there any, which are preferred
or helpful, although not required?
» What personal characteristics , personality traits,
values, interests, etc., do you believe are necessary or
helpful for success and satisfaction in this occupation
» How do people usually learn about job openings in
» What do you wish you had known about this
career field before you entered it? What about this
» How is the organization structured? How would you
rate the effectiveness of this structure?
» What kinds of entry-level jobs are available within
organizations like this?
» What is your organization’s leadership/management
philosophy? How does this differ from other
organizations in this field?
» Who are your competitors?
» What are your organization’s plans for growth?
» Do you have a formal training program? Could you
please describe it to me? What percentage of training
occurs in the classroom? On the job?
» What are the typical career paths within your
» How are employees evaluated in your division?
» What impresses you about this organization?
» Are there any books or periodicals that you would
» What special advice would you give to a young person
entering your field?
» What are your personal future career plans?
“Hello, this is Mara Jones. May I speak with
If she is not in and/or the secretary asks the
nature of the call reply…
“Sally Smith suggested I call regarding some research
that I am doing in the field of _________. When
would it be convenient
for me to call back?”
Assuming the secretary provides you with the
“Thank you very much. I’ll call back at (estimated
If you have been referred, your opening might go
something like this…
“Hello this is Mara Jones. Sally Smith suggested that
I call you regarding the possibility of setting up a
brief interview with you. She tells me that you are
am excellent source of information on the field of
_______. I am interested in exploring new career
options and am meeting with a small group of
people for information and advice. When might you
have a few minutes that I could meet with you?”
If your contact agrees, confirm the time, date, and
place, and be sure to get clear directions to your
meeting site. Before you meet your contact, send
him/her a letter confirming your meeting and
If your contact does not have time or does not wish to
meet with you, reply…
“I appreciate your being unable to meet with me.
Could you suggest someone else in your company or
your field your field with whom I could meet?”
If you’ve uncovered the contact person on
your own and have not been referred, your
opening might go something like this…
“Ms. Williams, this is Mara Jones, I am calling
because (select the appropriate option):
*of your expertise in the field of _______________.
*of your recent promotion to __________________.
*Of your association with _____________________
(professional or other relevant organization).
*you are a fellow alumni of ___________________.
After you’ve opened the conversation, continue with
your explanation of the purpose of the call .
If your contact asks if you are looking for a job, be
honest, but recognize that you are contacting this
person for informational purposes only. You might
reply like this…
“Yes I am applying for various positions, but my
meeting with you would be for informational
purposes only. I hope to use your advise in
developing leads and gaining additional
1. Speak with confidence
2. Remember that you’re likely to have many of your requests denied. Don’t be discouraged. Keep at it until
you’ve reached people who agree to see you.
3. If you can’t get through to the person whose help you are seeking, ask the secretary for suggested contacts.
4. Frequently, secretaries are valuable sources of information. Informational interviews give insight into your
career interests and provide you with a valuable network.
Thank You Letter
A thank you letter should always be sent following any employment interview or informational
interview. Thank you letters remind prospective employers that you are still available and
reinforces why you are interested in their organization. These letters are written to people
in your job search network to keep them up-to-date on your job search.
123 Miller Ave.
Jacksonville, FL 32234
April 3, 2016
Ms. Celia Shubert
Anderson, Shubert and Williams
256 Old St. Augustine Road
Jacksonville, FL 32257
Dear Ms. Shubert:
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me regarding opportunities within the law profession.
Your description of the various levels within your firm, as well as our discussion with Judge Hathaway,
were both extremely helpful.
As a result of our conversation, I have begun the process of applying to law school as well as continuing
my national search for paralegal positions. Judge Hathaway mentioned two contacts, Timothy Jones and
Adrianne Muniz, with whom I have already made contact and will be meeting with them in early March.
Your suggestion that I contact your sister in her firm here in Jacksonville has turned into an excellent lead, as
she had three colleagues who are currently in search of paralegal support.
Again, Ms Shubert, I thank you for your efforts and consideration. I enjoyed meeting with you!