What is an Informational Interview?
An informational interview is a one-on-one meeting between an information seeker (i.e. student or career changer) and an information provider (i.e. industry professional) where the seeker gathers in-depth information about career fields, positions of interest, and industry trends. While it is highly recommended to conduct informational interviews in person (the seeker is more memorable when he/she is seen AND heard), it is also acceptable to chat via phone, email or Skype.
Why You Should Conduct Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are extremely valuable because they can lead to expanded networks, guidance and mentorship, better understanding of industry lingo/ trends, and the occasional lead to a job/internship offer.
How to Find Professionals to Interview
Some of the resources available to find professionals to conduct informational interviews include:
- Career Network – An online directory of alumni who have volunteered as information providers to fellow Trojans to assist with career advice and informational interviews.
- Candid Careers – Students can watch video clips of USC (and other university) alumni being interviewed about their career paths in diverse industries and positions. Accessible via the “Resources” tab in connectSC.
- LinkedIn – Students can connect with others in similar careers/fields of interest by utilizing the general, Advanced People, Alumni, Group or Company search options. When the information seeker requests a connection, he or she should personalize the message to explain why he/she wishes to connect and what outcome he/she is hoping for (i.e. an informational interview). Webinars on how to utilize LinkedIn is accessible via the “Resources” tab in connectSC and at http://students.linkedin.com.
How to Invite Professionals
When asking for an informational interview, a seeker should consider conveying the following in their initial message/connection:
- Explain how you found the professional/information provider (through what resource or which connection)
- A brief introduction of the student/information seeker (major, year and current career interests)
- Explain why the seeker reached out to the professional and, in conjunction, what he/she is hoping to learn through an informational interview.
How to Conduct an Informational Interview
Once an informational interview has been scheduled, the student can best prepare by creating a list of questions to ask the information provider. Some of our most recommended questions can be found here.
At the conclusion of an informational interview, we suggest seekers ask for additional contacts of other professionals the information provider might recommend. This will build networks even further. Seekers should always make sure to write a thank you note and keep information providers updated on their progress.
Informational Interviewing (via Candid Careers)
What you need to know about setting up and conducting an informational interview.