Informational Interviews

February 15, 2024

When you meet with people for informational interviews, you can learn what they do in their jobs, how they prepared to do it, what they do and do not like about their jobs, and what advice they have to offer you. They may even have ideas for you after you share your goals and interests with them.

Remember that an informational interview is not a job interview. Applying for a job is an entirely separate process. While you can expect an informational interview to give you confidence and expand your network, you cannot expect it to result in a job offer. Just relax and enjoy learning about occupations.

When contacting people to request informational interviews, introduce yourself and explain that you are gathering career information and how you got their names. Ask for 15 to 20 minutes of their time to talk about the career field in which you are interested. Since every job is slightly different, it is helpful to meet with more than one person in each occupation.

What is your job like?

  • On a typical day what do you do?
  • What kinds of problems do you solve?
  • What kinds of decisions do you make?

What do you like most about your job?

  • What do you find challenging?
  • What do you not like about your job?
  • Is your job different from how you first thought it would be?

What things (work, activities, classes, or hobbies) did you do before you entered this occupation?

  • Which have been most helpful?
  • What other jobs can you get with the same background?
  • What attracted you to this type of work?

What changes are occurring in your occupation?

  • Has technology changed your work in any way?

How could I start working in your field?

  • What are the major qualifications for success in this occupation?
  • What are the advancement opportunities?
  • If you were starting again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
  • What is a typical pay range for someone entering this occupation?

Why do people leave this occupation?

What other local companies hire people in this occupation?

What social obligations go along with your job?

  • Are there organizations you must join?
  • Are there other activities you are expected to do outside work hours?

What sources of information would you recommend?

  • Are there any books I should read?
  • Are there online forums for this occupation or industry?

What other advice do you have for a person considering this career?

After the Interview

Ask your interviewees for referrals to others in the same field. However, you should not expect them to help with personal problems or provide career guidance.

Follow up with a thank-you card or letter. Let them know they were helpful and thank them for their time. Ask them to keep you in mind if they come across any information that may be helpful to you in your career research. If the interview went well, consider asking if they will allow you to do a job shadow, where you spend a day watching them work. Also consider asking an interviewee if they are willing to mentor you as you look for work.

Source: Excerpted from Oregon Career Information System, ©2023, University of Oregon, All Rights Reserved.

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