Informational interviews are an excellent way to explore career fields or organizations of interest to you. For the most part, people enjoy talking about themselves to an enthusiastic listener.
Alumni from the AlumNet and the CCNet Mentor databases have volunteered to speak with students and are valuable resources for informational interviews. It is not permissible however, to use these resources as job banks.
Be prepared before your start your interview. Decide what you hope to learn. You are creating a relationship so remember to listen well and engage your contact in a friendly manner. Always follow up with a thank you message.
The following questions, taken from the Cornell Career Services Career Guide offer helpful suggestions, but modify your interview to suit your needs.
Suggested Questions for Informational Interviews
- How did you decide to enter this field?
- What do you like most about your work? Least?
- What education or training is necessary for this type of work?
- Do you have an advanced degree? Is one required in this field?
- Is the field changing? In what ways?
- What are the greatest challenges you face in the job/organization?
- Are internships, volunteering, or other experiences helpful to getting a job in this field?
- What are the entry-level opportunities in this field? How can I learn about openings?
- What do you consider to be the growth areas in the field?
- What are some related careers I might consider?
- What is a typical career path in your life of work within this organization?
- What formal or on-the-job training does your organization provide?
- Considering my skills, interest, and academic background, where might you see me fitting into this organization or a similar one?
Lifestyle and Work Environment
- Generally, what is the work environment like here?
- How many hours do people work in a typical week?
- What obligations does your job place upon you outside the normal work week?
- How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, hours of work, and vacation schedule?
- If you were back in college, would you do anything differently in terms of coursework or summer experiences?
- If you were just coming out of college and looking for this kind of work, how would you conduct your job search?
- Can you suggest others whom I could speak with about this field? May I use your name when I contact them? Should I make contact by email, phone, or letter?