The best way to explore a potential career choice is by speaking with someone who works in that career. Doing an informational interview will help you to learn first-hand about your chosen profession by asking questions about tasks, business environment, and educational background.
What is an Informational Interview?
An informational interview is an interview designed to give you, the student interviewer, information and insight into a particular position, company, or career path in your field of interest. While contacts may be developed by participating in this process, the focus is on the information gathered. It is not about getting a job, but rather gathering information on the day-to-day of the person you’ve chosen to interview, and learning about the history of their personal career path. Use it as part of a networking building exercise, as it is a chance to make a new contact in a career field you’re interested in and an opportunity to get referrals for future meetings. Ultimately, the information gathered will help clarify whether this is a field you want to pursue. It is also an opportunity to ask for feedback on your resume and job search strategies.
1. Remember that people generally like to talk about what they do – so allow the interviewee to do just that. Do not feel pressured to interject with a statement or information on the field at all times.
2. It is important to keep to the time you scheduled for the interview. If you notice that, for example, the half hour you scheduled has run up do not hesitate to say to the interviewee that you notice this and that you understand that s/he has a busy schedule.
3. Record all important information gathered after the interview – this includes names of people, organizations, publications, companies, trends in the field, and interests of the interviewee.