Everything You Need to Know About Informational Interviews

If you’re anything like me, then the thought of graduating college sends you into a complete panic. To settle these overwhelming feelings, I have been on a mission trying to figure out exactly what I want to do with my life. I will be a senior this fall, and thankfully still have one more year pursuing a BS in Psychology on the Neuroscience Track. However, I know that in the blink of an eye I will be thrown into the real world and probably have a quarter-life crisis. To try and help future Abbey, I have been going to informational interviews to narrow down exactly what type of career I want to pursue. Here is what you need to know about informational interviews, and how to get the most out of them.

  1. 1. What is an informational interview?

    women placing sticky notes on wall

    To start off, let me explain what an informational interview is because I didn’t know until this past year. The main purpose of an informational interview is to chat with someone about what they do in the field you’re interested in. It’s a way to narrow down exactly what you know you do and don’t want. Not only can you learn specifics about the industry you are entering, but you are also expanding your network.

  2. 2. How do I prepare?

    Woman sitting on bed with laptop and books

    I will not claim to be an expert at this at all, because I have only just started my journey with it, as well! So far, I have found that creating a Google Sheet has helped me stay organized. I set up five columns with the following headers: who, when, career, notes/questions, and contact info. I write out who I am speaking with and when, followed by a few notes about what they do, where they work, and what they got their degree in. The most important part is notes and questions, where I prep at least five questions before going into the interview. Lastly, I write down their contact information so if I ever need to reach out to them again, I have it. This can be useful if you apply for a job at the same company they work at and you want to reach out for more information. 

  3. 3. What do I ask?

    Like I mentioned before, prepping a handful of questions to ask them will help you stay focused in the interview. Here are some great examples:

    “What is your favorite/least favorite thing about your job?”

    “What does a typical day look like as a…?”

    “How does your job affect your personal life?”

    “What kind of education is required for your position?”

    “What advice would you give to someone entering this field?”

    “Do you have anyone in mind I could also reach out to?”

After the interview, it’s important to follow up with gratitude, and then reflect on what you gained from the experience. I like to keep a list of everything I know I like and want in my future career, as well as a list of things I don’t like. By attending these informational interviews, you are creating resources for yourself that can really only benefit you. Having a sneak peek into the field you’re interested in can allow you to find a job that will fit your goals and personality. 


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