Conducting an information interview simply means talking to someone in the know about a career, learning or work option that interests you. This gets you a first–hand take on what it’s like and what you can expect.
When you have this kind of insider information, you can make informed decisions about what you want to do.
Follow these steps to make your information interview productive.
1. Prepare and plan
Find out all you can about the organization before you set up an information interview. You could make a negative impression on a potential employer by asking questions that are easily answered with some basic research.
Find out about the person you’ll be talking to. If you’ve been referred by someone, ask your mutual contact for background on the person you’ll be interviewing. Google the person’s name. Or search for their name on their company website.
Know exactly what you want before you connect. This worksheet on deciding what question to ask can help you figure this out.
Develop an information interviewing script (PDF).
2. Make arrangements
Information interviews can be conducted by email, by phone or in person.
Make initial contact by email or phone. Explain what you want and ask for 10 to 15 minutes of your chosen person’s time.
If your initial contact is by phone, be prepared to conduct your interview immediately if your contact says, "Now is a good time."
If your initial contact is by email, keep your email short and to the point. Give your email a subject heading that won’t be mistaken for junk mail. For example: Graduating Eng Tech seeks information.
3. Conduct the interview
Email, call or arrive on time.
When you connect in person or by phone, make sure you have your interview script and a copy of your cover letter and resumé in front of you. Dress appropriately even when you connect by phone. When you dress professionally, you’ll sound and act professional.
Take only as much time as you’ve requested.
Speak slowly and clearly, and take detailed notes.
Thank the person at the end of the meeting or phone call.
4. Follow up
Always follow up with a thank–you card or email. This leaves a good impression. Not only that, your contact may be in a position to influence future hiring decisions. Your courtesy will be remembered.