An information interview allows a potential candidate or jobseeker to “interview the employer.” It’s a great way to network with industry professionals and pick up key insights into a field or industry. The information interview gives the candidate the opportunity to lead a more casual conversation where the industry professional does most of the talking.Due to current health restrictions, people are open to meeting virtually if they’re available and if there is mutual interest. The key is to find the right person and conduct the meeting effectively.
Benefits of an information interview
- Learn more about the realities of working in a particular industry,
- Focus on your career goals,
- Discover careers you never knew existed,
- Uncover your professional strengths and weakness; and
- Find different ways to prepare for a particular career.
- Identify potential interviewees by creating a list of all the people you already know — friends, relatives, professors, fellow students, present or former co-workers, supervisors, neighbors.
- Look at professional organizations, networks on LinkedIn, organizational websites, and public speakers who are also good resources.
- Contact the person by LinkedIn or email.
- Be sure to mention how you got their name.
- Emphasize that you are looking for information, NOT a job.
- Ask for a convenient time to have a 20-30 minute meeting.
Preparing for the interview
- Send a calendar invitation by email.
- If you agreed to a phone call, make sure you have good reception.
- If you’re meeting on video, make sure your Internet connection is good, and that the video conferencing software works well.
- Check your room lighting to ensure that your face and eyes can be seen clearly.
- Research the person’s academic and professional background.
- Prepare 10–15 questions to ask during the meeting.
During the interview
- Choose a quiet place to do the call. Turn off any distractions, including notifications.
- For a video call, dress appropriately and professionally (as you would for a job interview.)
- Log in 3–5 minutes before the start, so that you’re the first one in the call.
- Mute yourself when not speaking.
- Listen well and do not try to fill the gaps.
- Restate that your objective is to get information and advice, NOT a job.
- Give a brief overview of yourself and your education and/or work experience.
- Limit the meeting to the agreed-upon timeframe.
- Ask the person if you may contact them again in the future with other questions.
- Ask for names of other people to meet to gain different perspectives.
- Send a thank you note to the person for giving you their time.
- Keep in contact with them by adding them on LinkedIn.
- Stay in touch by sharing relevant and interesting news about the industry.
In an informational interview, you will gain information that may not be available online. It will help you build your network and connections with industry professionals.
Monika Monga (Business Management ’00; Human Resources Management MA) is a HR professional who has worked in both the public and private sector where she gained experience in recruitment.