What is an informational interview?
What is the goal of an informational interview?
It's easy. An informational interview is a one-on-one conversation with someone who has a job you might like, who works within an industry you might want to enter, or who is employed by a specific company that you're interested in learning about. These interviews are excellent options for plotting a career path or focusing your aspirations.
The goal of the interview is to learn more about one of the jobs in your top fields of interest, so that you can you can determine if it is something you would enjoy. By asking the right questions you can also determine if a particular career matches your skills and abilities. Sometimes a job sounds like a great fit for you, but when you talk to someone actually working in that field you get a different picture. These interviews will help you decide if a particular job is one you want to learn more about through job shadowing, or one you want to mark off you list.
Great question! Start by asking your parents, teachers, or friends if they know someone who works in that field. If you can locate someone in your own town, that is ideal. If not, you can always interview them by phone or skype. If no one you know has a friend or aquaintance that is, say, a professional cheese sculptor (yes, that is a real job)...then go online and search for a person in that field. Linkedin is a also a great resource.
How do I find someone to interview?
How do I ask someone for an interview?
You can send an email or call. ( Hint: The person you contact is more likely to be open to you, if you can introduce yourself by saying: “John Smith recommended I call you”.)
Don't be afraid! People love to feel like they are helping others. So, if you literally start by saying, “I’d love your help,” or “I hope you’ll be able to help me out...” your chances of getting a positive response go up significantly
Ask for something very specific, and make it as easy as possible for the person to say yes. Let them know that you don't want to take up their whole day, just 15-20 minutes. Tell them you are a high school student who is investigating careers that you have identified as good fits for your personality, interests, and skills. Ask if you could ask them a few questions (in person if possible) to help you learn more about their job.
What do I ask?
1. What kind of education or training is necessary for this type of work?
2. How did you get this job, and what kinds of experience and preparation helped you most?
3. What are your responsibilities in this position?
4. What do you like most, least about this job? What kind of stress do you deal with?
5. Knowing what you know now, what advice do you have for getting into this work?
6. What personal qualities or abilities, are important for doing well in this kind of work?
7. For you, what part of this job is most satisfying? most challenging?
8. Can you recommend the best entry level jobs to get started in this line of work?
9. What types of extracurricular activities or summer jobs would help prepare me for a job in this field?
Last but not least...
Send a handwritten thank you note. Don't wait, do it as soon as you return from the interview. Here is a sample of what you might say, personalize it as much as you can.
Dear Ms. Preston,
I just wanted to take the time to thank you for speaking with me on (insert day). I am really appreciative of the insight you were able to give me on (insert career). Your advice and guidance allowed me to better understand what a job in (insert job) would look like. I know that speaking with people in career fields that interests me is an invaluable step to choosing the right major in college. Thanks you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. I appreciate your input.
When you complete this challenge you will be entered to win this month's $25 Amazon gift card. Send an email me at LeAnn@5majorsteps.com and tell me...
1. Who you interviewed
2. What field they work in
3. The answers to at least 3 of the questions you asked
4. Your personal thoughts about entering this field after talking to someone who already works in it.
A guide to your first informational interview
The purpose of this challenge is to learn more about one (or more) of the careers you identified during the 5 Major Steps course. To complete this challenge, read the following information and submit the report at the bottom of the page. Submit one report for each informational interview you complete.