After hours of digging through the World Wide Web and career books I am sure that you feel as if you have a good understanding of the occupations you are considering. Now it is time to see where the rubber meets the road and learn from someone who is actually working in that occupation or field. One of the best ways of doing that is through an Informational Interview.
What is an Informational Interview?
Informational interviewing is a technique used to explore and research occupations and organizations. It involves talking with people who are in an occupation you are considering, potential employers or simply contacts who may provide you with information or further contacts. When taking part in information interviewing, keep in mind you are seeking information, not a job.
Why conduct an Informational Interview?
The informational interview allows you to locate growing occupations. It also helps you find useful information about a particular career field, a specific occupation or industry. It is an excellent way to verify what you have previously only though about, read and heard. The person interviewed can offer information that is more:
In addition the informational interview increases your communication skills – both oral and written. It increases your self-confidence in dealing with people and makes you more adept and comfortable at interviewing. Lastly it may provide you access to the “hidden” job market. Only 20% of all job openings are advertised! Direct contact and networking is essential to find unadvertised job openings. Information Interviewing is not a job interview, but it can be a helpful first step in eliciting information about a prospective employer. It can also enlarge your circle of contacts and allow you to generate more referrals.
Up to Date
- Related to local situation
- Personal and Subjective
- Reflective of the “on-the-job” atmosphere
How does an informational Interview compare with a job-hunting interview?
Like a job hunting interview, an informational interview is a two-way conversation. Usually, it is slightly more relaxed and informal than the job hunting interview. Additionally, the informational interview occurs in a context of extraordinary freedom and control: as the interviewer, you define it focus and structure, and you conduct it entirely for your benefit. You decide what information is needed and your questions should hone in on those needs. Your questions should help answer the following (among others): “What information about myself, an occupation and/or an industry, do I need in order to choose a career?”
Who should I interview?
Any individual in your field of interest can conduct and informational interview. Do not assume that potential employers are the only ones who possess good information. Look for those who:
- Share a common interest, enthusiasm or involvement in some activity or lifestyle that appeals to you
- Work in settings you like
- Work in occupational areas in which you are interested
- Work in specific jobs in specific organizations
Where do I find these people?
The most obvious individuals include friends, family, neighbors and SJR State alumni. You will also want to contact faculty, former internship and summer job acquaintances to generate potential contacts.
Know exactly what kind of information you want. Read the questions on the list below before you do your interview. Be aware of your own interests, skills, values and how they relate to the person you are interviewing. Know as much as you can about the organization for which the person works, as well as the industry in which she or he operates. Read the materials available in the library or in the Web.
How do I initiate contact?
You can either write a letter or call to arrange an appointment with the individual; however, direct telephone calls are usually the most effective. Once you have contacted the individual state your purpose. You might begin your conversation like this:
“Hello, Ms. Nelson, my name is_________, and I am a student at St. Johns River State College. I am very interested in the health science field and I am trying to find out as much as I can about it. I have read a lot about the area, but I feel it might help to talk to someone who works in the field. I would appreciate meeting with you to discuss this occupation, if you have time. The interview would only take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. My schedule is flexible and I can meet with you at your convenience.”
Post interview follow-up
Always follow up with a thank you note, preferable within 2 or 3 days of your meeting. You might want to reiterate something discussed that was particularly helpful or informative. In addition, maintain a record of names, dates, comments and referrals for future reference. Keep these people posted on your progress. Write or call them periodically to let them know what you are doing. They will be glad to know if they have been instrumental in helping you make decisions and besides you may want to contact them later for more information.
- First impressions count heavily. Be on time, shake hands firmly, smile, look professional and maintain good eye contact.
- As answerable open ended questions that start with words like how, what, why and in what way
- Focus on the person you are meeting
- Do not make the mistake of using your information interview as a pretext for getting a job. It will not work and it can be embarrassing when it becomes obvious.
- Always send a thank you letter after the interview
These are the questions you will address in the interview:
Name of Person Interviewed:____________________________________________
Title and Workplace of person interviewed:__________________________________
Career and Cluster Videos
- Why did you decide to work in this field?
- Did you have another career before you went to school to become a _________? What was it like to change from one career to another?
- Where did you go to school for this job? What was the hardest part of school for you?
- What is a typical workday like? Do you have a lot of overtime? (If yes, How is overtime scheduled? Do you have enough notification so you can adjust your schedule at home, etc.?)
- Do you work under a lot of pressure in this job? (If yes) Can you give me an example of a typical high-pressure situation?
- Is there a lot of take-home work in this job? (If yes, Do you ever find it hard to turn-off work at home and enjoy a personal/family life?)
- What kinds of professional development opportunities are there in this field? Can a person move up in this career?
- Do you see this field as growing and expanding? Can you give me examples of why you think this is happening?
- Is this a secure field? Can you give me reasons why you think this is true?
- Does this job give you the challenges you need to stay interested in this field?
- Do you see yourself doing this job for the rest of your work life? Why (or why not)?
- I am a person who needs a lot of __________________ on a job. Does this career field provide that for a person like me?
How to conduct an Interview?
Business Informational Interview
Nursing Informational Interview