Whether you’re still deciding what career path to take in the future or you know exactly what you want to do after graduation, informational interviews are a helpful tool for finding and refining your long-term career goals.
What is an informational interview?
An informational interview is a meeting with a person in a particular field to gather information about a specific position, organization, or the job market in a specific industry or location.
Who should you interview?
To find someone to interview:
- ask your professors and mentors at St. Olaf
- ask current and past supervisors, and anyone else you worked or researched with
- make an appointment with a Piper Center coach
- search the alumni directory
Talk with someone in your field who is knowledgeable about the industry, or who has connections that may help you into a particular organization.
How do you prepare?
Prepare for the meeting by deciding on questions to ask the person.
Consider asking about their organization, their specific career path, the field you’re interested in, or other referrals for more information.
- check out more sample questions for inspiration
Informational interviews can occasionally turn into job interviews, so prepare as you would for a job interview.
During the interview…
- be sure to arrive on time or early
- plan 20-30 minutes for the meeting
- be prepared to tell the person about yourself and your career plans with a benefit statement
- ask for other contacts for more information, and ask for permission to use the interviewee’s name when approaching them
Send a thank you note within 48 hours of the interview.
One of the most common reasons that people avoid networking is that it becomes overwhelming. Keeping track of your helpful people, employers of interest, resources you are using, or opportunities of interest can really help you compartmentalize your networking tasks – meaning, you have a place to keep all of the information you need for when you have time to work on it. Considering using a tool to stay organized – here are two options: