RLS logo - link to home page
A career consulting agency providing individuals and businesses with career counseling, education information, resume writing, interviewing, job search strategies, and links to employment opportunities.

Empowering individuals to achieve their educational and career potential.

Interviewing for Information


Informational interviewing is an important part of the work search process. It can help a person more clearly define an objective; it is a practical way to develop interviewing skills; it is a useful way to build up a personal network of contacts. The suggestions, questions and sample phone call included here are guides to help persons begin to use the information interviewing technique.

Whom can I talk to to find out the ins and outs of successfully pursuing work in my field of interest? Who can advise me? From whom can I get the most accurate information about the field of my choice and what goes on it? THE BEST CAREER INFORMATION COMES FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTIVE AND SUCCESSFUL AND KNOWLEDGEABLE IN YOUR FIELD OF INTEREST. INTERVIEW THEM! But - - you object - -you cannot expect these people to give you their time.

Remember four things:
1. You are not asking for work. You are simply asking for information and advice, so you are not putting this person on the spot.
2. You have the right - - and a responsibility to yourself - - to seek advice and information from those who can best help you.
3. The most effective action you can take on your behalf is to develop mentors. Mentors are people, experts in the field of your choice, who take an interest in you and your professional development, advise you, help you along, and inform you of appropriate opportunities. You will also need to develop professional contacts -people in, or related to, your field - who help each other out by exchanging information about what's going on.
4. Because you are doing the interviewing, you are in charge. You prepare. You ask the questions. Your mentor can lean back and talk to her/his heart's content, and will - - if you listen well.

HOW FO I FIND OUT WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE? Ask. Ask this question (or one like it) of everyone you know and everyone you meet: "Do you know anyone who(is knowledgeable about, or is an expert in, or I can talk to about__________(field or occupation). The next question to ask is "Would you mind if I use your name?"

Another way to gather information is by reading. Read newspapers, magazines, journals and books that have information about the kind of work that interests you. Check resources in local libraries and career centers.

HOW CAN I CONDUCT THESE INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS MOST EFFECTIVELY, so that I get the information I need and also establish a good relationship with this person?
bullet PREPARE. Inform yourself about the field, the organization, and the person you will be interviewing

bullet PREPARE a list of the questions you want to ask, and some that you know will be interesting to answer.

bullet PRACTICE. Review THE PHONE Call sheet (below). Practice interviewing people for information whenever you get a chance to. It's fun. You'll find that people really like to talk about themselves and their work.

bullet EXPRESS interest, listen, show enthusiasm and appreciation.

Here are some questions you can ask:
bullet What is a typical day like? What do you actually do?
bullet What do the really successful people do better or more than the others?
bullet What are the opportunities for advancement within this field or company?
bullet How did you get into this work?
bullet How did you prepare for entry into this field?
bullet What rewards do you get from working here? What do you especially enjoy about your work?
bullet What are the frustrations?
bullet What degree or training is necessary for this kind of work?
bullet Would it be advantageous to take courses at a particular institution or school?
bullet I read (you name it -- Journal: would you recommend additional appropriate materials?
bullet Where, in your opinion, is the best place to look for work in this field?
bullet Is government funding any part of this field? Who are the contractors?
bullet Is there a deficit of qualified personnel in any part of this field?
bullet What are the starting salaries (range) at entry level in this field? (at other levels?
bullet What professional organizations do you belong to? Should I join them now?
bullet Are you doing what you thought you would be doing when you started?
bullet What are some of the difficulties, problem areas, snarls, of this position?
bullet How mobile and flexible can you be in this occupation? location? hours?
bullet How secure is your job...other jobs in this field?
bullet If you had a magic wand, how would you change your work responsibilities?
bullet If you were starting out again, what would you do differently?
bullet What is the potential for growth? What areas do you feel promise the most growth?
bullet Do you think there is a need in this area for the kind of service (or product) I can offer?
bullet How did you get your start in this kind of work?
bullet Is working for this organization, or one like it, a good way to get into the field?
bullet What personal advice would you give a person entering this field?
bullet Where, in your opinion, is the best place to look for work in this field?
bullet What are some of the most important factors that contributed to your success?
bullet What skills are most important for your kind of work...to really be competent in this field?
bullet Generally, what do you feel are the best ways to become competent...to contribute the most...in this field...this kind of work?
bullet Can you give me the names of other people who might provide me with additional information: Other people who might be helpful...whom I might talk with?
bullet May I use your name?

Make up your own questions out of the information you have, in your own style, and based on the kind of information you need. These sample questions are simply to give you some ideas. Though the informational interview is not meant directly to find you a specific work experience, an offer often occurs. Why? Simply because you have made yourself visible and impressed someone with your interest and your ability to seek information.

Here's a sample phone call:
Hello...
My name is...
Mr./Ms./Mrs.....suggested I call you, because you're an expert in..... I'm interested in your field (or occupation), and have some questions I would like to ask you. I'm not looking for work now; I just want some information and advice. When could I come to talk to you? I'll just take a few minutes of your time (no more than 20 or 30).

Set time and place to meet with the expert.

Thank the expert.

SOME CLOSING WORDS OF ADVICE...
bullet Speak clearly enough to be understood easily over the phone.

bullet Call when there are no distractions like a radio or TV noise, or loud conversations in the background.

bullet Do not chew gum, or make other distracting sounds.

bullet Be friendly and sincere and really interested in meeting with the expert.

Home Site Map Contact RLS