The keys to a successful information interview are your enthusiasm, preparation, and ability to communicate clearly. Before you go to an interview, think about the type of information that would be helpful to you.
The following are sample questions. Respect anything your interviewee does not want to talk about. Always remember to thank them for their time and ask if there is anyone else they would recommend you speak with.
Questions about their career path/training
- How did you get into this field?
- What has your career path been like to date? Is it representative of most people in this kind of position?
- What kind of education/training do you have?
- Are you a member of any professional orders or associations? Which ones do you feel are the most important to belong to?
- What are the future prospects in this field? What trends do you see developing over the next few years?
- If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself?
Questions about their current position and responsibilities
- What does a typical day/week in your job look like?
- What do you enjoy the most about your job? The least?
- What skills have you found essential for success in this occupation?
- Could you tell me about one of the main challenges you face in this position?
Questions about working conditions
- How many hours do you work in a typical week?
- How much autonomy do you have in terms of what you focus on at work?
- What kind of supervision did you have when you were starting out? Now?
- How is your performance evaluated?
- What kind of professional development opportunities are available?
- What advice would you have liked to have heard when you were starting out?
- How would you recommend I “try out” this line of work (i.e. through a summer job, internship, volunteering…)?
- What other fi lds or jobs would you suggest I research before making a fi al decision?
- Is there anyone you would recommend I talk to next? When I call them, may I mention that you referred me?
You may want to take some notes during the information interview, but do so sparingly, so as not to interrupt the flow of conversation. After the interview, write down all of the main points and pertinent details covered.
Send a thank-you note or email within 24 hours of the meeting.
Nurture and maintain your relationships with the people you have interviewed. Keep them informed of your progress and any action you have taken based on their advice. If they referred you to someone who was also helpful or recommended a book, website or professional organization which you subsequently followed up on, let them know that. Once you make a decision about your career path or land the position you were hoping for, inform them of this as well; and thank them for their role in your journey. Remember, good relationship building is reciprocal: if you read an interesting article they might enjoy, forward it on; if you hear about a success they have achieved or an award they have received, send a congratulatory note.
Re: Meeting Last Week
Dear Mrs. Newman,
Thank you so much for talking with me last week. I really appreciated you taking the time out of your busy schedule to tell me about your fascinating and varied career path and to bring me up to speed on the latest developments in immunotherapy technology.
I learned a great deal from our discussion, and I also greatly appreciated your referral to your colleague in a new start up, Mr. Johnson. I spoke with him yesterday, and we will be meeting later this week.
I will be sure to keep in touch and let you know how my career plans develop. Thank you again for your time, your enthusiasm, and your suggestions.