When you meet with an individual to gain more detailed information about a particular career, you will be conducting an informational interview. The purpose of an informational interview is to seek information about a career field of interest, not to ask for a job.
You initiate an informational interview after joining the COACH program or by contacting organizations that employ people with career interests similar to yours when networking. Preferably, the meeting should occur at the individual's place of employment. If a meeting in person is not possible, a phone or e-mail interview is acceptable.
- An Informational Interview can benefit you in many ways:
- It allows you to determine if the career, industry or company matches your skills, interests and expectations
- It confirms information you have read and provides information that may not be available in written form
- It provides you with the opportunity to become more familiar with the career options for someone with your major
- It provides you with tips and information about the job and career field
- It gives you an opportunity to see an organization from the inside
- It assists you with organizing your future job search by giving insights on how to get your "foot in the door"
Common Informational Interview Questions:
- How did you become interested in this field?
- What are the major responsibilities and specific duties of your position?
- What do you believe is the best educational background for this field?
- What types of personal qualities are necessary for this occupation?
- What is the typical background of the college graduates your company hires?
- Are there opportunities for college graduates with no experience?
- Where do you see growth opportunities in this field?
- What is the typical career progression of individuals in this area?
- What are some of the demands of your job?
- What does one need to do in order to achieve career success?
- What do you like best and least about your career?
- If you had to do it over again, would you choose the same career? What would you change?
- May I have names of other organizations that hire people in this field?
- Could you suggest anyone else for me to speak with in this field?
Some Final Tips:
- Dress as if your were interviewing for a job.
- Bring a resume.
- Make notes following your meeting with the questions asked and responses received.
- After the initial meeting, you may want to arrange a follow-up session or ask if it is possible to make contact periodically to keep him/her updated on your progress or to answer additional questions.
- Always follow up your telephone or in-person interviews with a thank you letter.
- Try to keep in touch with your contacts at least once a year. Send them progress reports or holiday cards. Keep up on your industry through trade journals and send your clippings of special interest to them.
- Although the purpose of an informational interview is to seek information rather than ask for a job, it is very important to make a good impression. You never know when this contact may lead to a job!