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One of the best sources for gathering information about what’s happening in an occupation or an industry is to talk to people working in the field. This process is called Informational or Research Interviewing.
An informational interview is an interview that you initiate — you ask the questions. The purpose is to obtain information, not to get a job.
Some good reasons to conduct informational interviews are:
Listed below are 6 steps to follow to conduct an informational interview:
Identify the occupation or industry you wish to learn about
Assess your own interests, abilities, values and skills, and evaluate labor conditions and trends to identify the best fields to research.
Prepare for the interview
Read all you can about the field prior to the interview. Decide what information you would like to obtain about the occupation/industry. Prepare a list of questions that you would like to have answered.
Identify people to interview
Start with lists of people you already know — friends, relatives, fellow students, present or former co-workers, supervisors, neighbors, and so on. Professional organizations, the Yellow Pages, organizational directories, and public speakers are also good resources. You may also call an organization and ask for the name of the person by job title.
Arrange the interview
Contact the person to set up an interview:
Conduct the interview
Dress appropriately, arrive on time, be polite and professional. Refer to your list of prepared questions; stay on track, but allow for spontaneous discussion. 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 contacting these new contacts.
Immediately after the interview, record the information gathered. Be sure to send a thank-you note to your contact within one week of the interview.
Note: Always analyze the information you’ve gathered. Adjust your job search, resume, and career objective if necessary.
Prepare a list of your own questions for your informational interview. Following are some sample questions.
Other helpful information