An informational interview involves talking with people who are currently working in a particular industry or job position; designed to gain a better understanding of an industry, or, a specific job — and….to build a network of contacts in that field. Utilize this opportunity to its fullest…you may just hit on exactly what you want in a position; or, just may find more contacts in that industry that can increase your network. And we can never stop building our network.
Below are 5 points on utilizing informational interviewing:
First: Be sure you know what you are looking for; this requires some homework on your part, researching the industry. How to do this research? Make an appointment with a career counselor who can walk you through the informational interviewing process.
Second: Have your questions written out so you can ask them in an efficient way, more chronologically; You can start with something as simple as “Tell me about yourself” …. or, more on point…How did you get started here? What do you like especially about what you do? How did you advance to your current position? The list is long, in the UCS Career Research Manual (online at https://careers.unc.edu/search/node/research%20manual) there are further suggestions.
Third: Never ask for a job during the interview, you don’t want to mislead the person who has taken 15 minutes out of his/her day to talk to you about what he/she does in their job. So what’s the purpose then? Several benefits: you’ll get to explore careers and clarify your career goal; you’ll expand your professional network; you’ll build confidence for your job interviews. This is just a beginning.
Fourth: Who can help you build your network in a field where your contacts are slim? Start with lists of people you already know: friends, fellow students, present or former co-workers, supervisors, neighbors, professors, etc. Review your online social networks — Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, and Twitter followers. Professional organizations, Chambers of Commerce, the yellow pages from the phone book. Locate alumni, people you’ve read about, or people your parents know.
Fifth: At the end of the 15 minutes, ask for other contacts in the field who you can reach out to, and don’t forget to shoot the interviewee a thank you email within 24 hours (or sooner) of your time together.
In summary, remember, this is your meeting. Don’t assume the person will give you the information you need unless you ask the right questions. Select questions that will give you the most information. Be efficient, and do not overstay your welcome. Contact UCS if you need further assistance in informational interviewing.
University Career Services