Skillfully used, informational interviewing is one of the most valuable of all sources of occupational information.
While it may cover some of the same ground as printed material, it presents opportunities for an intimate and flexible inspection
of the job field unmatched by written sources. The informational interview communicates the firsthand experiences and impressions
of someone close to the occupation, and is directed by your questions.
An informational interview is less stressful for both you and the employer
than a typical job interview. You are the one in control. Questions can be asked that may not be strategic during a
first interview (i.e., questions regarding salary, benefits, vacation). You can discuss what is done on a day-to-day basis
and relate it to your own interests and feelings. Beyond the advantages of gaining valuable career information, the informational
interview provides the opportunity to build self-confidence and to improve your ability to handle a job interview.
You should regard each interview as a business appointment and conduct
yourself in a professional manner. If you have made clear, in advance, the explicit purpose of your interview you will, in
all probability, find your contact an interested and helpful person. Remember the appointment time and appear promptly for
your interview. You should neither be too casually dressed nor overdressed. Regular business attire is appropriate. Be sure
you know the name of the person you are to see, the correct pronunciation of his/her name, and the title of his/her position.
Because so much ground may be covered in the informational interview, individuals sometimes take
notes during the meeting. A limited amount of note-taking is justified provided that your contact is agreeable and that you
do not permit this activity to interrupt communication between the two of you.
Sketch out a brief outline of the topics covered and the information
gained as soon as possible after the interview. This will require only a few minutes, and will insure that you remember the
important points discussed. Later, working from your outline, you can construct a more detailed report of
Write a thank you note to the people you have interviewed. Report back to them if you have followed
up on any suggestions. By building strong rapport with career contacts you enhance the likelihood that they will offer assistance
with your job search when you are ready for that phase of your career planning process.