Conducting Informational Interviews

What Is An Informational Interview?

An informational interview is a brief (e.g. 30-minute) conversation with someone working at a company or industry you would like to learn more about. Examples of information you could glean from an informational interview include:

  • What attracted that individual to this field
  • What are the pros and cons of this career track
  • What are the challenges currently facing the organization or industry
  • What experiences would be recommended for someone interested in this field

How Can I Set One Up?

Believe it or not, setting up an informational interview is fairly straightforward. The first step is to identify someone in a company whose job sounds interesting to you and ask them if they would be willing to meet with you. Most professionals are familiar with the term, so you can ask them for an informational interview and they will understand your request. 

It is often helpful to have some sort of connection or mutual acquaintance with the person to get things started. Examples of possible avenues for finding connections include:

  • Alumni listings from your institution
  • First or second degree connections through LinkedIn
  • Membership databases for professional societies

Megan Anzelc, current Director of Predictive Modeling at CNA insurance, recently gave a webinar detailing tips and strategies for learning about non-academic careers while finishing an advanced physics degree, including informational interviewing.

For a full listing of all the informational interview questions she used, please click on the link below.
Gray Arrow Suggested Informational Interview Questions

For great advice on getting (and getting the most out of) informational interviews, please watch the following clip from Peter Fiske's webinar Putting Your Science to Work.

APS Webinette: Putting Your Science To Work - Informational Interviews