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Career Action Center

Informational Interviews

Things to Keep in Mind

  • YOU ARE NOT ASKING FOR A JOB !! — ask for information and advice; asking for a job is unprofessional.
  • Prepare for the interview so that you can ask good questions that will draw out the interviewee.
  • Develop a list of five to seven prospects, so you“re not discouraged if one prospect turns you down.

Making the Phone Call

Use a script. Don’t read it — Develop It! This will help you compose your words and you will sound more professional and organized. Practice with a friend or classmate until you can roll through your script in a proficient and conversational tone.


"Hello (Mr/Mrs/Ms)______. My name is _______. I am a student at Edmonds College studying _______. (Select from an alternative below based on how/where you got their name).

Alternative 1.

I’ve been researching career fields and I’m interested in learning more about _______. During my research, I became aware of (company name) and your role with (company name) and the ______ industry. I would very much like the opportunity to ask you a few questions about your career and how I, as a student, might better prepare for a similar career. May I have 20 minutes of your time for such a discussion?

Alternative 2.

I am interested in the field of __________. (Mr/Mrs/Ms) _________, of _________, suggested I might contact you for expert information and advice. I would very much like the opportunity to ask you a few questions about your career and how I, as a student, might better prepare for a similar career. May I have 20 minutes of your time for such a discussion?"

Conducting an Effective Interview

  • Set a specific time and place to meet. Show up 5-10 minutes early. Act professionally to everyone.

    Research the profession, the organization and the person you will be interviewing.

  • Be ready for someone to agree “on-the-spot.” Are you ready to ask them your questions when you call?
  • Dress as you would if you were in that career field when doing an on-site interview.
  • Listen to what the individual is saying. Show enthusiasm and appreciation. Make eye contact. Take notes.


After each interview, write a short, personal thank you note expressing your appreciation for their time and interest. You should try to mention 1-2 specific pieces of information which you found particularly interesting or helpful.

What do you ask?

  • Brainstorm and list all of the questions you want/need answered.
  • Include some you think would be interesting for the interviewee to answer (e.g. what was your college major and how have you used it in your job?).
  • Group them together into logical categories (e.g. Professional development, organizations, and certifications).
  • Keep questions focused on the job, the industry, and matters that relate to helping you better prepare to pursue the career. (This is not the time to be bashful, but don’t delve into personal matters (e.g. how much do you make?)).You can reasonably ask what salary range a typical entry-level position in the field would bring with it, along with what career progression would be reasonable.
  • Use your time with him/her wisely; it demonstrates your preparation and organization. Ask if you can e-mail or fax the questions to them ahead of time so their time is used more effectively.

Some possible questions are listed below. You will (or should) have many more and different ones, but remember—You can’t ask them all in 20 minutes!

  1. What is a typical day like? What kinds of problems and decisions do you face in an average week?
  2. What do you especially enjoy about your work?
  3. What are some of the difficulties and frustrations of your work?
  4. What are the characteristics of other successful people in your organization (or career field)?
  5. What are some of the important factors that have contributed to your success?
  6. What were the jobs that you had which led to this one?
  7. What skills are important to be competent in this field? What degrees and/or training are necessary?
  8. What courses or field experiences would be beneficial to better prepare for this field?
  9. Is there a current demand for people in this field? What about the next two to three years?
  10. How stable is the job market in this field? Is government funding a major factor?
  11. What mobility and/or rotation requirements exist in this occupation? Hours?
  12. What are the salary ranges for various levels in this field?
  13. Do you have any information on job specifications or job descriptions that I can have copies of?
  14. What sources of literature would you recommend to learn more about this profession?
  15. What professional organizations do you belong to or would you recommend? Should I join them now?
  16. Are there others who might meet with me and provide further information? May I use your name?
  17. What question(s) should I have asked you that I haven’t?

This information was created by Douglas A. Poad,
Assistant Professor and Internship Coordinator,
Mount Union College, Alliance, OH