An informal conversation with someone working in an area of interest, and an effective research tool for exploring careers and industries. Best done after preliminary career research. It is not a job interview, and the objective is not to find job openings.
6 Steps of Informational Interviewing
- Conduct Career Research
Identify areas that you are interested in. Some great resources include What Can I do With This Major?, MSU Career Outcomes Information, O*Net, Handshake’s Job Role Function, and Candid Careers (all accessible on the Career Services Website).
- Identify People to Connect With
Friends, family members, professors, supervisors, alumni, people you meet at career fairs and events, and people who work for companies you are
interested in.. LinkedIn and MSU Connect are great ways to find Alumni to interview.
- Reach out and Ask for an Interview
Connect on LinkedIn, MSU Connect or via email. Mention how you found them, that you are interested in information on their career and path, and that you’d like to schedule a time to meet to get some advice and learn about their experience. Include specific dates and times and mediums (virtual, phone, in person) for connecting.
- Prepare for the Meeting
Develop an introduction and list a few things you’re looking to accomplish. Prepare a list of open ended questions to ask your interviewee and conduct some
basic research on their position and employer.
- Conduct the Interview
Bring your list of questions and take notes. Restate that your objective is to get information and advice, not a job, then give a brief overview of yourself and your education and/or background. Ask your prepared questions, and be sure to limit the meeting to the agreed-upon timeframe. Consider asking for the names of other people to meet to learn more.
- Follow Up
Be sure to send an email thank you after your meeting, and keep in touch with them to let them know if you took their advice and the outcome. This person could become a part of your professional network.
Sample Interview Questions
- What are your main responsibilities as a…?
- What is a typical day (or week) like for you?
- What do you like most about your work? Least?
- How does your position fit within the organization?
- How does your job affect your general lifestyle?
- What current issues and trends should I be aware of?
- How did you become interested in this field?
- How did you begin your career?
- What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job/this field?
- What advice could you give me to help me prepare for my career?
*Duplicate information available in attached handout.