Informational interviews help you learn more about different jobs as well as make contacts in a field of interest. Unlike traditional job interviews, where you answer questions, the person who already has a job answers your questions in an informational interview. If you have crafted your questions well, you should come away from an informational interview with a solid understanding of a particular job and a direction to go if you want to work in the field.
Informational interviews allow students or first-time job applicants to learn about a career path they are interested in. Students should ask specific questions about the job and listen carefully to the interviewee's answers. Most interviewees will be happy to talk about their jobs, so make sure you pay attention to their answers. Write down pertinent information as interviewees answer questions and ask follow-up questions to clarify important points.
Crafting Interview Questions
You must craft high-quality questions to get the answers you need during an informational interview. Ask as many specific questions as you can. For example, ask your interviewee to describe specific things he does during the course of a day or for his favorite and least favorite aspects of the job. Avoid general questions such as "Do you like your job?" as these may not generate the types of answers you are looking for.
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Types of Information
Your interviewee's answers should give you two types of information: what this particular job is like, and how you may get started if you are interested in pursuing a career in that field. Ask your interviewee what she did to get her first job and make sure to ask follow-up questions to find out what you might do. You may also want to ask your interviewee if you can use her as a contact for the purpose of getting your first job.
After the Interview
After the interview is over, read over your notes and see if you have any additional questions. When you are finished, thank the interviewee for his time and ask how you may contact him if you have more questions later. Send a thank-you note within a day or two of the interview. This shows that you are courteous, professional and appreciated your interviewee's time.