An informational interview is an interview that you
initiate - you ask the questions. The purpose is to obtain information, not to get a job. Informational interviews can help you:
Step 1: Identify a profession in your career field of interest
- to explore careers and clarify career goals
- to discover employment opportunities that are not advertised
- to expand your professional network
Make a list of people you know, tell them what kind of career you are interested in, and ask them if they know anyone working in that field. Out of everyone you come in contact with, someone will know a professional for you to talk to. You can also use LinkedIn or 'Cane Connections to identify UM alumni.
Step 2: Schedule a meeting with the professional(s)
Contact the person whose name you received. Tell them who referred you first. Ask the contact if they would be willing to speak with you and what day is good. Be flexible and polite.
Step 3: Go to the interview and ask questions
Be on time, dress professionally (you never know when a good impression could help you on down the road), give the person a firm handshake, and be pleasant. During the meeting, ask for any information you would like to learn about the occupation and suggestions on how to pursue the occupation.
Have questions prepared. You may want to ask:
Step 4: Send a thank you note and continue contact if interested
- What is a typical workday like?
- What do you find most satisfying about your job?
- What are some of the frustrating aspects of your job?
- What type of background or training is necessary for a position similar to yours?
- What personality traits are helpful for this type of work?
Always follow up an informational interview with a thank you note. The note may be written or typed depending on the industry/organization. Be personal and specific in your thank you. Ask your contact if they know of any other individuals who you should speak to.