“Asking someone with first-hand experience in an industry can be one of the best ways to get information and learn more about a certain career path. It’s a great first step!”

“Even if you already have a certain area of work in mind, it’s a great idea to do this kind of research anyway. It may help clear up any misconceptions you had about an industry or its workforce. It can also help specify your understanding of the field, allowing you to make strong first impressions.”

“Informational interviewing is a way to fine-tune your career interests and do some background research. This should enable you to locate the best jobs and compete effectively when you do find openings.”

“Informational interviewing may confirm your career goals and motivations, or maybe prompt you to realize that your “dream job” may not actually be a good fit. Either way, it is a productive step to take when investigating opportunities for your future.”

What is informational interviewing?

Don’t be afraid — you’re not the one being interviewed! In fact, informational interviewing is where you ask questions of a professional about their job. Learn about quality of work, employment outlook, or even salary. Even ask about . . . interviews.

If you’re applying for a job at a company, you can ask an alum who works there questions such as:

  • What kind of interview questions did they ask you? What was the hardest question?
  • What skills does this company value?
  • What do you like most about working for this company? What do you like least?
  • To whom should I talk next to learn more about this field/industry/position?
  • If I look for an internship or job in this field, where would you suggest I look?
  • What else do you think I need to know in order to make a good decision about working in this area?
  • Are there professional or networking groups that I can join to expand my knowledge of this field?

Alums enjoy answering questions and giving advice. It makes them feel good to help students because they went through the process just like you!

How to find alumni

Find alums in the alumni directory — you can search by major, company, career, geographic location, and graduation year. Template emails on three basic career-related topics–informational interviewing, networking for an internship search, and networking for a job search–are available on the right column of this webpage. You may adapt any of these emails to your particular situation or you may simply use them as a guide in writing your own email.

How to set up an informational interview

  • Decide what area(s) you are interested in learning more about.
  • Find contacts in the job industry/position/organization you are interested in. You can contact:
    • Alums
    • Family friends
    • Past employers
    • Past co-workers
    • et al.
  • Get in touch with your contact and ask to set up an informational interview
  • Prepare questions to ask your contact.
  • Keep a record of who you talk to, as well as addresses, phone numbers, job titles, meeting date and what you’ve learned.
  • Send a thank you note within 24 hours.