7 Steps to a Polished Informational Interview

the interview for a jobWhat You’ll Find on This Informational Interview Page . . .

  1. Decide Which Kind of Work to Investigate & Research
  2. Identify Who You Want to Interview
  3. Know Your Phone Scripts for The Calls
  4. Prepare for each Individual Interview
  5. Take Your 20 Questions to the Interview
  6. Keep Track of Each Interview
  7. Follow up with a Thank-You Letter

1. Decide Which Kind of Work to Investigate and Research It
Preparation for your Informational Interviews, begins with research into the type of work that interests you. Make a list of all the types of jobs you imagine would be really interesting to do, work that you could see yourself doing. Include anything you have been toying with or wondering about. Now is your chance to find out what it’s really like.

2. Identify Who You Want to Interview
Maybe you’d like to start with some practice interviews – pick someone you know who loves to talk to people. Your list might include – friends, relatives, fellow students, co-workers, neighbors, and so on.

Use your PC Research and Paper Research Resources: including the internet, the library, employment centers, career counseling centers at schools, universities, colleges.
Decide what information you would like to know about it while you are reading about it. Write down a list of questions that come to you during your research. Allow yourself some time for this. Don’t rush. You can’t go into your informational interviews unprepared.

3. Prepare Your Phone Scripts for Beginning the Call
Once you get a chance to talk to one person, you can ask if they could suggest someone else you might be able to arrange to talk to another time. If the work interests you, you will want to get several opinions on it, so you can compare what they say. You are going to get so good at this, you’ll be the one putting them at ease.

4. Spend Time Preparing for Each Interview using The 4 P’s of Job Research
Read all you can about the job, career, or field of work, prior to the interview. Yes, this will take some time. You want to do it right. So allow yourself the time to do a good job on this. Enjoy the process of finding out as much as you can about each job.

Next, try interviewing people whom you don’t know, about their jobs. In order to get the best reception, and practice your approach:

  • Go around to Volunteer Organizations and interview the people who are volunteering there, about the jobs they do. Volunteers are usually very open to this.
  • Visit Open Houses at companies and show an interest in the jobs they have. Do “On-the-Spot” interviews with them.
  • Attend Career Fairs where employers are alert to spotting potential employees. Ask them about the jobs that they are featuring in their companies.

Online, you can find multimedia interviews with real people in every career, along with in-depth occupational profiles. “Career Cruising” is one resource used in many libraries and colleges, which has 450 videos of people talking about the work they do. Notice what they talk about.

5. Interview Those You’ve Chosen Using the 20 Interview Questions
If you are meeting with the person, dress appropriately, arrive on time, and be polite and business like. Refer to your list of prepared questions; stay on track, but allow for spontaneous discussion, if it happens. Before leaving, ask your contact to suggest names of others, who might be helpful to you, and ask permission to use your contact’s name when speaking to these new contacts.

It’s generally not recommended that you use a recording device during the informational interview. This can be a turn-off, and you don’t want to get started on the wrong foot. A notepad, however, is fine.

6. Track Each Interview with Your Action Plan Template in Career Manual 2
Immediately after the interview ― on the way home in the bus, or before you start your car, you may want to record your impressions or any thoughts or information that you remember. Now, you can use a recorder to quickly catch your thoughts at that time. Keep the information from each informational interview. You may need those names and information later.

7. Write an Interview Thank You Letter
A nice touch, that will make you stand out, and keep the doors open for future contacts with those you interview. Here you’ll find some short examples, that are suitable to be used after an Informational Interview, or a Job Interview. These show the basic format. Be honest, sincere, and clear with your words, and you can’t go wrong, when sending a Thank You Letter.

GUIDING COMMENT: After you have gone through these steps, and are confident that you thoroughly understand how to conduct yourself in an Informational Interview, you will be in total control – knowing how to handle any situation. You may even find yourself looking forward to your interviewing experiences.

Coming Up Next

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
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