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Informational Interviews

Informational interviews can be a great job-hunting resource. They are like job interviews except you ask all the questions about an occupation, not a specific job opening. You have two goals during this interview. The first is to learn about the occupation to see if it might suit you. The second is to establish a connection with the person you’re interviewing.

Informational interviews can lead to job search suggestions, company contacts, and even job offers!


Informational interviews provide many benefits to help you.

  • Make a contact—a connection with someone.
  • Learn more about the company, industry, and job.
  • Gain confidence as you practice your interviewing skills.
  • Possibly learn about “hidden” (unadvertised) jobs or internships.

Who to Ask

Interviews take time, so target only individuals who have occupations you really want to pursue.

You might ask:

  • Friends, family, neighbors, supervisors, coworkers, and anyone they know.
  • People listed in the yellow pages or association directories.


Here are some general guidelines for the interview:

  • Interview three people for each occupation of interest.
  • When you call, say how you got that person’s name. 
  • Explain that you’re seeking information and guidance. 
  • Ask to meet for 20 minutes and stick to it (wear a watch). 
  • Bring paper and pen with you and take notes. 
  • Research the occupations and organization beforehand as you would for a job interview. 
  • Dress and act as you would at a job interview. 
  • DON’T ask the person for a job in any way.

Questions to Ask

Since you probably don’t have much time, pick only a few important questions to ask.

Here are some ideas:

  • How did you get into this type of work? This job?
  • What type of preparation/education/training did you have? What is required? 
  • What do you enjoy the most? The least? 
  • What three skills do you use most often? 
  • Describe a typical day or week. 
  • What motivates you? 
  • Describe difficulties you regularly face on the job. 
  • What are the advancement opportunities and limits? 
  • How does a person usually progress in this field? 
  • What must a person know to stay competitive? 
  • What’s the economic outlook for this career?
  • How does your job affect your home life? 
  • What are typical entry-level job titles and duties?
  • How do you suggest I learn more about this field?
  • Here are my strengths. How do they fit in this field?


When your scheduled time is almost up, end the interview. Here are some important tips for ending your interview.

  • Thank the person before you leave.
  • Ask for referrals to others who might be available for an informational interview. 
  • Ask for the person’s business card. 
  • Immediately send a thank you note. 
  • Evaluate how well you conducted the interview. 
  • Decide how to weigh what the interviewee said. Take what you heard with a grain of salt and trust your own judgment. 
  • Review the notes you took and decide on your next step. 
  • When you eventually do get a job, tell your interviewees about it—they’ll want to know how your search ended!