Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Informational Interviews

This post was written by Peer Career Ambassador Shun Ping Huang ’17.

Informational Interviews are an informal conversation in which you seek advice on a specific career path, industry, or corporate culture of a specific company.

WHO ARE YOU? You can be

  • A student
  • An unemployed job seeker
  • Or an employed individual considering new options

WHO ARE YOU “INTERVIEWING? You should talk to someone who

  • Has your ideal career path
  • Works at your ideal company
  • Has a career path that you are interested in exploring
  • Works in an industry you are interested in
  • Can be a potential mentor
  • Has a similar background or went through the same challenges (for example, if you are a First Generation student looking to move half way across the world, you should set up an informational interview with someone who went through a similar situation to ask for advice)

PURPOSE of informational interviews.

  • Ask for advice on a career path that you are interested in
  • Ask about the corporate culture of a specific company or industry
  • Expand your professional network
  • Grow employment leads
  • Get the name of other professionals

HOW to interview.

  • Initial contact through a brief email containing the following information
    • How you found them (Alumni Directory, LinkedIn, referral from a Career Adviser, etc.).
    • A brief description about you that provides context to the reader about your background (i.e. graduation year, concentration)
    • Overview of why you are getting in touch and what you want from them. (Think about what you can learn from your contact. Some examples include learning more about their company; industry tips; professional organization networking ideas.)
    • How you would like to gain that information (an in-person informational interview, a phone meeting – at the professional’s convenience).
    • Indicate how you will follow-up.
    • Schedule a time and place for an informational interview (at the professional’s convenience).
    • DO NOT include your resume unless the professional asks you for a copy of your resume.
  • Conduct background research to understand the professional’s current position and previous work experience
  • Set some goals for your informational interview: outline what you would like to learn or to gain from this correspondence
  • Make a list of questions: https://career.berkeley.edu/Info/InfoQuestions

ETIQUETTE. The professional being interviewed is doing a favor by providing information so be courteous by doing the following:

  • Be mindful of the professional’s time constraints
  • Conduct the informational interview either through a short phone call or meet at a convenient location for the professional
    • Appropriate locations include coffee shops, professional’s office, library, park, restaurant, etc.
  • Since you are the interviewer, it is your responsibility to lead and manage the conversation (similar to how the interviewer is responsible for asking you questions during a traditional interview)
  • Dress professionally and be professional
  • DO NOT ask the professional to pay for or even split a check
  • DO NOT ask for a job or internship or request they pass along your resume to Human Resources (HR)
  • Send a Thank You note to your interviewee and, if applicable, to the person who connected you two
  • 10 Tips for a Successful Informational Interview: http://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/10-ways-to-make-the-most-of-an-informational-interview-hot-jobs

To learn more about Informational Interviews, please come into CCD Walk-In Hours (Mon-Thurs 1PM to 4PM) or visit Career Beam.