Informational Interview for Doctoral Students
An Informational Interview is a mutual meeting in which you arrange to learn more about the experiences of a professional working in an occupation or career field of interest to you. Skillfully used, an informational interview is one the most valuable sources of occupational and career field information. Do be mindful, an informational interview is not a job interview; the focus is information gathering. More often than not, people are open to being interviewed about their career. Typically professionals, especially alumni, are excited to share advice and contacts with students and fellow alumni.
Where to find professionals to interview
- Faculty and Staff
- Relatives (or friends of relatives)
- Friends (or relatives of friends)
- Student organization peer members
- Religious Institution members
During the informational interview
As you are the one facilitating the interview, be prepared to ask specific questions. Your objective is to learn as much as you can. To accomplish this in a short amount of time, prepare a written list of questions. Your questions shouldn't be able to be answered by printed material or information on a company website but should be able to aid you in making a better decision as to whether or not to pursue a particular occupation or career field.
Suggested questions to ask during an informational interview:
- What is a typical work day like?
- What are the most interesting aspects of your job?
- Are there any aspects of your job in which you consider dull or repetitive?
- What percentage of your time do you devote to such duties?
- What previous work experiences lead you here?
- What types of training do companies give to a person entering this field?
- What is the salary range for the various levels in the field?
- What aspects of a career in this field do you consider particularly good? Particularly bad?
- Is there a demand for people in this field?
- How do you see the jobs in this field changing over the next five years?
- What can I do to prepare myself for such changes?
- What methods would you suggest for approaching the job search?
- What's the best way to find out about jobs in this field?
Informational Interview Follow Up
Whatever your decision about the occupation or career field, be sure to send a thank you letter to every professional you interview.
- Send immediately following the interview (within 24 hours)
- Drop in the mail within two days
After an informational interview, you may also consider connecting with your new contact via LinkedIn