Informational interviews are one of the best ways to learn the ins and outs and the real story of a career. The primary goal of an informational interview is to learn about a career – not to ask for a job or internship. Hearing from someone in your targeted industry who is willing to share their experience and expertise can help you make important career decisions and expand your network.
You can determine if you are a fit for the career, get tips on how to get started or advance in the field, and learn about specific employers. Informational interviews can lead to future opportunities once you have established a relationship, so be sure to present yourself professionally, research the interviewee, tailor your questions in advance, show up on time, and be respectful of their time.
Finding a Professional
Loyola Connect and LinkedIn are both great options to find someone in your targeted career or employer. Alumni on Loyola Connect have signed up because they want to talk with students and are just waiting for you to reach out! Explore the Loyola University Maryland alumni page on LinkedIn to filter alumni by major or search for key words on their profiles. LinkedIn also has industry groups that could help you identify someone to interview. If you notice that you have shared connections with someone on LinkedIn, consider asking the person you have in common for an introduction.
This printable guide offers directions on how to conduct and informational interview and a few sample questions. Also consider any of the following questions:
- What do you wish someone would have told you before you started this career?
- What satisfaction do you find in your work? What are the rewards, both tangible and intangible?
- What are some of the challenges you find in the work? What are some of the stresses and frustrations? Did your training prepare you for these?
- What was your first job out of college? How has your career path led you to your current role?
- Tell me about a few projects you recently worked on.
- What would surprise people about your daily work?
- What previous professional experiences have helped you the most in this role?
- What type of education and training are recommended as preparation for the job? Distinguish between what is desirable and what is necessary.
- Which skills are particularly important? Are there any personal qualities or abilities that are most marketable?
- What kind of work experience would employers look for in in this field? How might a student obtain this work experience?
- While a student, what can I do to make myself stand out? Specific coursework? Research? Internships? On-campus involvement?
- How would you describe someone who would excel in this career?
Questions to Ask Yourself After the Interview
- Which aspects of the job would you like?
- Which aspects of the job would you dislike? How long could you tolerate them?
- What is your reaction to the conditions (e.g. stress, anxieties) of this occupation? Do you think you would be able to handle them?
- What is your reaction to the amount of freedom or flexibility the worker has in determining what they do on the job?
- Do you already have (or could you acquire) the skills and personal characteristics necessary for this job or career?
- How do you feel about the duties described in relation to your strengths and weaknesses?
- Are you willing to complete the necessary education and training?