Career Success Center : Interviewing 101

Career Conversations/Informational Interviewing

Connecting with a variety of people to learn more about what they do, why they do it and how they see the future is a brilliant way to research, obtain guidance, connect, and get the edge of an insider’s view. Sometimes called an “informational interview”, because it allows you to turn the tables and allows you to BE the interviewer. It is not a job interview, and the objective is not to find job openings; this is actually one of the best ways to get the inside scoop and learn about new trends and realities while giving your interviewee an opportunity to talk about their career and lesson’s learned.

The following simple steps will help you through this simple process:

  1. Find someone to interview
  2. Prepare for the interview
  3. Interview and follow-up

Find Someone to Interview

Think of all of your friends, your friends’ parents, your relatives, your teachers, professionals in the business you are interested in gathering advice about, etc., and start by telling them what it is you would like to do. Tell them you would like to conduct an “Informational Interview” on them to gather “ideas & advice.” Everyone likes to share their opinions and ideas and advice on what worked for them. Your job is to let them talk and learn from them. Before you go to, or call them for any interview you schedule, make sure you prepare.

Prepare For Your Interview

  1. Think about what you would like to learn from your contact (interviewee).
  2. Discover and reflect on your own interests and personality. Meet with your university’s Career Counselor for help.
  3. Research the interviewee, their company, and consider using LinkedIn, O’Net Online, Focus 2, Vault or Candid Career to learn more. You can find these tools under the E-Tools page of this website.

Interview and Follow-up

It is always best to come prepared for some questions you can ask the person you are interviewing. This will help you feel prepared and confident. Here are some examples of things you might want to ask:

  1. What lead you to choose this field of work?
  2. What are the hot topics and big issues in this career field?
  3. What advice do you have for entering this career field?
  4. What is required to be successful and to move up in this type of career?
  5. How did you come to work for this company/in this field?
  6. What does a typical day look like for you?
  7. What is the occupational outlook for this type of career?
  8. Are there others you might recommend to talk to?
  9. Is working in this field everything you expected and what would you do differently?
  10. Might you recommend one or two other people who I can connect with to learn more about your industry(or another topic)? 

There is a myriad of questions you can ask. Think about the types of things that are important to you which will help you decide if this type of industry or field of work is the best fit. For more guidance and instructions, click here to learn more about Informational Interviewingopens PDF file .

Finally, never forget to follow-up with a nice thank you letter no more than 24 hours after your interview. It is best to always ask for a business card from all of those who you speak with and make sure you USE it. These people are taking time out of their busy schedules to help you so please don’t forget to show your appreciation

Here are some opens in a new window sample templates for invitations and a thank you note to consider.


Although you want to limit your conversation to about 20 minutes, you may want to vary the questions depending on the conversation. Here is a link to opens in a new window 200 more questionsopens PDF file that you could select from when asking questions.

Need to do a video interview?