Informational Interviews


  1. To learn firsthand about what it is like doing a particular kind of work in a specific organization
  2. To get information about what the opportunities are in a given field or organization
  3. To develop contacts in key positions with people who either do the hiring or who are asked for suggestions by those who do
  4. To seek out "problem areas" where you can be the solution
  5. To sell your skills and abilities in a low-threat, open-ended situation


Who to Contact

Friends, friends of friends, relatives, co-workers of any of these, people mentioned in the newspaper or on radio and TV, people gleaned from directories of companies, associations, outstanding individuals, and alumni.


Basic Approach

You are in the process of making some decisions about your career, and you want to learn more about the opportunities in a given field for someone with your skills and experience. There is a lot at stake in terms of your future so you want the best information you can get. That is why you would like to meet with this person.


Practical Matters

  1. You are NOT asking for a job. You are gathering information on which to base some decisions. Make sure friends and relatives understand this.
  2. Schedule an appointment. This puts it on a business-like basis and helps eliminate interruptions.
  3. Be prepared to take the lead in the conversation - remember, YOU are interviewing him/her.
  4. Prepare in advance by learning everything you can about the person, the organization, and the field.
  5. Have some questions in mind that will show you have done some homework. Know what you want to ask. The person being interviewed will feel it was worthwhile if you ask thoughtful questions, but not if you ask only a few superficial ones. Having notes with you is fine and can be very helpful.
  6. Respect the person's time.
  7. Towards closure, ask who else you could talk with. This is the key to developing more contacts.
  8. Keep your eyes open for other clues about what it is like to work in this organization.
  9. Always write a thank you note that will help you be rememer. Mention what you talked about, what you learned, or who you are going to see at his/her suggestion. If you are interested in pursuing a job with that person, try to keep the door open to get back in touch. This may be in terms of mentioning that you were intrigued by a particular problem you discussed and are thinking about it.


Questions for an Occoupational Visit

  1. What is your job like?
  2. What do you do on a typical day?
  3. What kinds of problems do you deal with?
  4. What kinds of decisions do you make?
  5. What are the most important personal satisfactions connected with your occupation?
  6. What are the things you like least about your job? Why?
  7. What social obligations go along with a job in your occupation?
  8. Are there organizations you are expected to join?
  9. Are there additional obligations you are expected to meet outside of work hours?
  10. What previous experiences did you have prior to your present position?
  11. Does any of your previous experience help you?
  12. What courses in college helped you the most?
  13. What are the current trends and changes in your field?
  14. What is your future job outlook?
  15. How does a person progress in your field?
  16. What is the best way to enter this occupation?
  17. What are the advancement opportunities?
  18. What are the (major qualifications) for success in this particular occupation? Personnal traits, likes, and abilities?
  19. How does your job relate to your lifestyle?
  20. What type of people do you have to deal with in your job?
  21. What would be your advice to students preparing for their life career?