Talking to professionals in your fields of potential interest is an important exploration tool. It is a way to learn more about the field, to find out if it is a good fit for you, and to gain ideas on how to prepare yourself to enter the field. Alumni are wonderful resources since they had a similar path. These conversations are called informational interviews. Even though you are hoping to learn and gain information from these interactions, you MUST prepare before reaching out to request an informational interview, and you MUST do research in preparation for the actual conversations.
Here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for informational interviews:
- Research about the person you are requesting to talk to for information and advice. Know what their career path and their educational background have been. Using Haverford Connect and LinkedIn (Haverford alumni page) are helpful resources for this preparation.
- When talking to the alum or other contact, do not ask basic questions about the field that you should have been able to learn from reading preliminary details about the field (CCPA subscribes to Vault for this purpose).
- Prepare questions that are specific to the person to whom you will be talking. Think of questions that are relevant to their background and experience.
- Never ask for a job or internship; you are asking for advice and information.
- Be mindful of their time. Be on time for the video chat, phone call, or in person meeting. Since these are busy individuals, don’t take too much of their time (~15-20 minutes).
- Be appreciative. Thank them at the end of the meeting and send a thank you note within 12 hours of the interaction.
- Use the resources below to gain detailed advice and sample questions for your preparation.
LinkedIn Learning: What to ask in an informational interview
LinkedIn Learning: Informational Interviewing
IBISWorld – a comprehensive collection of Industry Market Research and Industry Rish Ratings, to which The Libraries subscribe; the iExpert Summary Reports contain potential questions for informational interviews and job/internship interviews.
CCPA Blog: Trust, Concern, And Informational Interviews