An informational interview is a chance for you to gather information about what you need to succeed in your career, learn about a new field or just talk to someone about their own personal career path. Remember you are not asking for a job; your primary purpose is to get information to make an informed decision about how you should move forward in your career. Are you nervous or intimidated about talking to someone unfamiliar? Do you need some motivation to get started? See below for the many benefits of conducting informational interviews.

  • Learn about the industry and the company: Find out where your industry of interest is heading and learn about the strengths and vulnerabilities that exist in the field. What is the employment outlook for the industry? This is also a great chance to find out what a typical day looks like at a specific company. You want to understand both the positive and negative aspects of a job to decide if this could be a potential career path for you.
  • Understand the requirements for the job: Do you have the skills needed for the position you want? Will you need a graduate degree to gain advancement in the field? Are there other certifications necessary to perform this job? An informational interview allows you to learn details about the background and skills necessary to be competitive in the industry. He/she may also provide insight on where to get additional training if you need it.
  • Practice interview skills in an informal setting: The informational interview is a low stress situation for you and allows you the chance to practice expressing who you are and what your career goals are in this field. Gaining confidence in your communication skills will make you better prepared for actual interviews down the road. However, because this isn’t a formal interview you should feel free to ask about topics not normally discussed in an actual job interview such as the salary and benefits for the kinds of positions you are interested in.
  • Find a potential mentor/expand your network: This is an opportunity to develop a connection that can prove to be pivotal in helping you find employment. Having the chance to “get your name out there” in your new field or company is key to finding positions that might not even be posted yet. Be sure to ask if there are other people they suggest you talk to – the more connections you can make, the better! You might also discover a great mentor during the process. If you feel like the conversations went well, ask if you can follow-up with any other questions and updates on your progress. This can keep you connected beyond your quick informational meeting.
About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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