Purpose: To help
you prepare for a discussion with an employer in your field of
interest. Perhaps the single most versatile tool you have available
in any job search is the Information Interview. We define the INFORMATION
INTERVIEW as a conversation with an individual who can give you
information about a field or work, an organization, of a particular
job that interests you.
An Information Interview may serve any one
or more of these purposes:
- To help you decide the field of work you want to enter
- To identify organizations and people where you might like to
seek job interviews at a later time
- To help you prepare for a job interview by becoming better
informed about a specific job and its responsibilities
The best way to prepare for an information
interview is as follows:
- Use printed materials (in the Career Center, get it on line,
and in general libraries) to find out everything you can about
a field of work or a particular job, BEFORE considering an information
- Decide the questions you most need answered in person--questions
that you were not able to answer from printed materials.
Answer these questions, to prepare yourself for each information
interview that you will be seeking:
- Field of work I am considering ______________________________________
- Local organizations I have identified where I may seek information
- or, other individuals from whom I plan to seek information
Questions To Ask
The following categories
represent possible areas of questioning for the information interview.
For at least five (5) of these categories, write a particular question
you would like to ask:
Example: where employed -- "Does your company have branches in
of job -- "How
much pressure is there in news reporting?"
Questions I want to ask in the information
- Field of work
- Credential Requirements
- Nature of work
- Where employed
- Advancement potential
- Related fields of work
- Personal responses
- Rewards of the job
- Problems of the job
- Skills developed
- Advancement potential
- Uncertainties of the job
- Greatest disappointments
- Greatest surprises
- Specific job
- Major responsibilities
- Key problems
- Criteria for hiring
- Academic requirements
- Nature of the work
- Resources available to do the job
- Training opportunities
Setting Up An Information
the telephone number of the organization where you would like
to do an information interview. Call and
ask for the name
of the person with whom you would like to speak ("Who is head
of the ________ department?")
- Telephone the person you want to talk with. If he/she is not
available, ask for someone else who works in that department.
to this person: "I am interested in the
kind of work that your organization does, and would like to
know more about it.
I am not looking for a job. Instead, I need information and possibly
advice about how to get into this field and what the work is
like. Could I meet with you at your convenience to ask a few
- If this person cannot meet with you, ask him/her if someone
else in the department would be willing to talk with you.
- Note: You can also request information interviews IN PERSON.
The more informal the organization (smaller firms tend to be
less formal), the more likely you might get an information interview
on a walk-in basis.
Guidelines For The
- When you seek an information interview, make it clear that
you are not looking for a job. If the person believes you are
trying to get a job interview in a sneaky way, he/she will be
reluctant to talk with you.
- Do not use the information interview as an opportunity to push
your resume onto someone.
- The information interview is an opportunity for a pleasant,
informal conversation in which the person acquaints you with
his/her field of work and specific job responsibilities. It is
also a chance for you to ask for advice about the best ways to
enter this field.
guidelines above may seem obvious, but they are necessary, because
sometimes people misuse or even abuse
the concept of an " information interview ".
People in the working world are familiar with information interviewing
by now, so they expect you to be prepared, respectful of their
time, and honest in your intentions. As long as you follow these
guidelines and those on the next page, you will have a lot of useful
conversations and will make some contacts along the way.
- Get as much information as you can about the field or the job
from printed materials BEFORE you seek an information interview.
Ask only those questions that you could not have answered from
- Know the specific questions that you want to ask. Have these
questions written down, so you can locate them easily (it is
OK to have notes with you).
- Have your first information interviews with people who are
easy to contact, either because you know them or because they
are easily available. This will help you get accustomed to the
process, so that you can approach less familiar people later.
- Do not assume that people will take a lot of time to talk with
you. Be respectful of their time. If he or she resists a particular
question you have asked, move to another question without pursuing
the first one.
- Listen attentively. Do not interrupt even when a different
question occurs to you while he/she is talking.
- Ask only those questions which are most important to you. You
may not have time to ask the others.
- Ask for references to other people and/or materials that can
extend your search for relevant information.
- You will gain much confidence after completing several information
interviews. We promise you! Confidence gains are the single most
reliable result of information interviews, regardless of the
student or desired field of work.
- The people you interview will sometimes recommend you to others,
thereby obtaining you additional information interviews.
- You will gain valuable information and insights which you need
to decide among career or job possibilities.
You may even hear about some job openings
while you are information interviewing, because the word-of-mouth
network is always strong, and some people will try to help you
with tips about job vacancies.