Published on Oct. 12, 2021
Have you ever wished you could just walk up to an employer and ask questions? No strings attached, no job on the line, just questions. Well, you can do just that with Informational Interviewing.
What in the world is that?
Informational interviewing is simple; it’s an interview where the sole goal is to get information. It’s about seeking career insights, and where better to get them than from the source! It’s a great option for students with a defined career path and for students wanting to explore other options.
How do I get started?
First, make a list of every professional in the field that you know. Narrow that list down by deciding who has a similar background as you. In other words, who would it be easiest to make a connection with? Once you figure out who you want to reach out to, figure out how you want to reach out to them.
Just like with normal interviewing, you can connect with professionals in tons of ways. LinkedIn and Handshake are both great ways to do research and get in touch with professionals in your field. If you know the professional through personal recommendations or through a program like Mizzou Mentoring, then a phone call or an email would work great.
No matter which way you get started, make sure you start off with a good message. LiveCareer gives helpful tips on how to build your email, but this should be your basic structure:
Hello ______, I am a student at the University of Missouri pursuing a ______ degree in ______. I am interested in the ______ industry and was wondering if you would have 30 minutes for me to ask you some questions via Zoom or in person to learn more about your profession. I look forward to your response! (Guide to Informational Interviews)
If you’d like a more in-depth message, MANGO offers great help with networking emails.
You still have to make a positive impression, and even though you don’t have to be business-y, you should still act professional. Don’t be late, don’t be rude, and don’t be demanding.
Make sure that you come to the interview prepared. Remember, they are here because YOU asked them to be. YOU should be the one to ask the questions and get the conversation started. Keep a good, positive tone.
Ask different types of questions, too. Career insights aren’t just about “what happens when you go to work?” Career insights also include work-life balance, experiences, skills, company culture, and even concerns about the industry as a whole. You want a picture of the entire pie, not just a slice.
Finally, make sure to follow-up. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Be specific about what you learned and how you plan to apply that to your future. If it applies, you can even throw some (professional) ideas at them that might help in the struggle that they’re facing.
If you have any questions about informational interviewing, feel free to reach out to your advisor. Or, you can reach out to the Career Center! We are here to help you with your future, and would be happy to answer any questions you might have. No matter the topic, we’ve got you covered.