Prepare for an informational interview just like you would a job or internship interview. This allows you to ask more insightful questions and get more out of the interview overall.
Obtain some basic information on your interviewee (LinkedIn is a great resource for this). Do your due diligence when it comes to company research: visit the company website, read company literature, review company profile on LinkedIn, read business journals, or obtain a copy of an annual report. These are just a handful of ways to conduct your company research.
After you research, it is time to develop interview questions. Prepare 12 or so questions to help you stay on track during the interview, but allow time for spontaneous and informal discussion. Remember, you aren't there for a job - ask questions that will help you learn and obtain information about your interviewee's career field.
The following are some sample questions to help you get started, but feel free to create your own!
- What are your typical duties and responsibilities?
- How did you decide to enter this field?
- What kind of education and training did you have?
- What personal qualities are important for an individual considering this field?
- What do you like best and find most rewarding? Least and most frustrating?
- How is your time divided between people, data, and things?
- What do you wish you had known before entering this field?
- What additional training and qualifications are necessary for advancement?
- How does an individual advance in your field? in your company?
- What type of internships or work experience would you suggest to people before they enter this field?
- What specific advice would you give to someone considering this field?
- Do you know any other professionals whom I might talk to who have similar jobs?
Review additional sample interview questions, ranging from the interviewee's career field and job to career preparation and general career advice.
What to Do/Bring
Simply showing up for the interview isn't enough. You want to make a good first impression by coming to the interview prepared. You want to look, feel and act the part.
- Dress professionally (just like an actual interview)
- Bring your list of interview questions
- Bring a portfolio or note pad and a pen so you can take notes
- Update your resume and bring a copy (your interviewee may be willing to give you feedback)
- Don't forget to have your resume critiqued by a Career Advisor beforehand
- Bring copies of your business card to exchange (if you have some)
- Call to confirm your appointment
- Arrive at the interview 5-10 minutes early
Step 4: During the interview: Engage