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). 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 seen and heard), it is acceptable to video chat or speak over the phone.
Why You Should Conduct Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are valuable because they can lead to expanded networks, guidance and mentorship, a better understanding of industry terminology/trends, and the occasional lead to a job or internship offer (although this should not be the expectation).
How to Find Professionals to Interview
Some of the resources available to find professionals to conduct informational interviews include:
- Trojan Network – Our free online professional networking and mentorship platform with alumni who have volunteered as information providers to fellow Trojans to assist with career advice and informational interviews.
- 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, they should personalize the message to explain why they wish to connect and what outcome they are hoping for (i.e., an informational interview). Webinars on how to utilize LinkedIn are accessible via the “Resources” tab in connectSC and at LinkedIn learning.
- 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.
How to Connect With 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 networking 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 they are hoping to learn through an informational interview
How to Conduct an Informational Interview
Check out what you need to know about setting up and conducting an informational interview via Candid Careers. Once an informational interview has been scheduled, the student can best prepare by creating a list of questions to ask the information provider.
After 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 write a thank-you email and keep information providers updated on their progress.