Informational Interviews: A Tool for Deciding Students

Category: Exploring Careers & Majors

Are you struggling with deciding your future career path? Many students feel completely confident in their major, but have trouble deciding exactly what they want to do with it. The MU Career Center has many resources for a deciding student, but one of the most valuable is informational interviewing. 
Informational interviewing gives students an opportunity to personally speak to a professional in the field they are pursuing. By conducting the interview, students will often gain valuable insight on what a position in that field is really like on a daily basis. This can often be very helpful in helping a student decide if an occupation seems like a good fit for them.
In addition to being a great source of information, informational interviews are also a great networking experience to get to know professionals in the field. 
Students should reach out to their subject professionally over LinkedIn, email, or phone to set up the interview. The interview should take about 30-60 minutes and center around their subject’s profession and personal path to the position. It is important to be professional and do research previous to the interview and center it around the subject. Remember that it is not a job interview; rather, it is an opportunity to gain information on the industry. 
At the start of the interview, the student should restate the purpose of the interview, and follow through by asking open ended questions. Some good topics include the subject’s path into the profession, a typical day in the job, pros and cons of the position, outlook on the industry, and any advice for pursuing the profession. Be mindful of the subject’s time, and keep the interview focused.
Following the interview, students should express their gratitude for the subject taking the time to do the interview and write a thank you note. Oftentimes the interview subject will have other contacts in the field who could provide more information, serving as a great source of networking. 
For more information on informational interviewing, take a look at the MU Career Center’s handout