People Research: Doing Informational Interviewing
informational interviewingSource:

What You will Find on This Page . . .
  1. What is an Informational Interview?
  2. Why Would Anyone Talk to Me?
  3. Who Should I Interview?
  4. Key to Finding the Best People to Interview
  5. 7 Steps to a Polished Information Interview
  6. 20 Questions to Ask in an Information Interview
  7. Sample Phone Scripts for Information Interviews

People Research gets you “up close and personal” with the job, talking to people who are actually working in the jobs you’re considering. ‘Informational Interviewing’ lets you ask questions, to find out what’s really happening in an occupation or an industry you are thinking of getting into.

What is an Informational Interview?

An information interview is one that you arrange with someone you want to talk to, in order to get those difficult questions answered. The ones that you were unable to find the answers to, while doing your Paper and Online Research.

Remember that List of Questions you were making while doing your research. This is where you will use it. You can also use the 20 Questions List to supplement those questions. You can see that an Informational Interview is the opposite of a Job Interview, where they ask you the questions.

An Informational Interview is where – you ask the questions. After you have done your Paper and Online Research, you can then arrange these interviews with anyone in the ‘Field of Work’ you are researching.

You would call up someone working in a job you think you’d like, and explain that you are doing research on this job to see if it’s right for you. Be careful to ask if this is a convenient time to ask them some questions or if not, when would be a convenient time for them.

IMPORTANT: The purpose of an “information interview” with an employer, is to obtain information, not to persuade them to hire you. If you disregard this rule, the employer will realize you made contact with him/her under false pretences. Your trustworthiness and reliability will be shot.

There are two types of informational interviews: the 1. Telephone Interview and the 2. In-Person Interview.

Sometimes you may need to go in and see the person face to face. You would first call to arrange an appointment.

There are sample telephone scripts here for this purpose.

The Informational Interview is a great way to check out the information that you got through your ‘Paper’ and “PC” research. While you were doing that research, you wrote down the questions that came to mind, that you couldn’t find the answers to. Now, you can get the answers from the ‘Sources’ who really know the field.

Why Would Anyone Take the Time to Let Me Interview Them?

  • Aren’t most people too busy to talk to a stranger who wants to ask them a lot of questions?
  • How could I convince them to take the time to talk to me?
  • Why would they even want to talk to me?

These are all good questions. . . until you realize that most people love talking about themselves, especially to someone who is really interested in what they have to say. And if you are asking about their work, especially if they really enjoy what they do, then they feel confident in talking to you, and will make the time, even in a busy day, because for them it’s a pleasure. Most people consider themselves helpful and would be open to talking with you.

Who Should I Interview?

If you don’t know of anyone to do an informational interview with, ask around until you find out who really enjoys doing that line of work, and is doing well in it. It won’t be long before you find a name. These people are noticed by their co-workers and the people they serve.

    Open House Sign

  • Begin by asking family members and friends if they know someone you can do an informational interview with.
  • Check the phone book, company business directories, websites, for names and position titles.
  • Look for articles written on successful people in the field.
  • Look for Open Houses when schools open their doors to the public. Call around or go on their websites for a list of these scheduled events.
  • HINT: During Open Houses, talk to the instructors and students about their programs, the books they use in the courses, and the types of jobs they are aiming to get into.

  • Attend Career Fairs – they are usually advertised in the local newspaper.
  • HINT: You can get a lot of information at these events. You can make contact with all kinds of employers, who will be more than happy to talk to you about their field. Ask them to recommend people you can do an informational interview with.

The Key to Finding the Best People to Interview

The key is to find someone who really likes what they are doing, and wants to talk to you. If you come across someone who doesn’t want to talk to you about what they do, chances are, they have nothing positive to say about it.
They don’t really like their job. Or they are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by it. And you really don’t need to talk to anyone who feels like that about their job anyway, do you?

It is important to talk to people who like their jobs.

It’s amazing how wonderful it feels after you get off the phone with your first informational interview. Here are some comments from people who were scared to death before they made that first call.

“Wow! They were so helpful, they really went out of their way to help me.”

“I can’t believe it, they invited me to come in to tour their workplace.”

“I’m so grateful that they shared so much with me. They really cared.”


Getting Ready for Informational Interviewing

  1. How Do I Get Started Making That First Call?
  2. What Do I Say on the Phone?
  3. What Do I Say If the Person I Want to Interview is Not Available?
  4. 7 Steps to Preparing for an Information Interview
  5. 20 Questions to Ask About Any Job
  6. Writing the Interview Thank You Letter

Participation Research

This Link Will Take You Through Steps 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Program

Links to Step 1 - The 5 Career Tests on This Site

Step 1 - Discovering Who You Are
Links to Step 2 - Career Exploration

Step 2 - Exploring Your Career Options
Links to Step 3 - Getting into the Nitty Gritty

Step 3 - Doing the Research For Your Dream Job
Links to Step 4 - Taking Care of Your Career

Step 4 - Managing Your Career - Doing Career Planning
Are you wondering: "What Career is Best for Me?"

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