How to conduct an informational interview

Ever heard of the term “informational interview” but not quite sure what it means? We’re here to help! 

An informational interview is when you sit down with someone from a certain company, industry, job, etc., that you’re interested in and you’re essentially the one who interviews them. This is a great way to make connections in the industry you’re looking to work in – and most of the time, professionals are more than willing to help out students. Having an informational interview can give you a leg-up down the line when looking for jobs or internships – and because there’s no expectations with an informational interview, you’re very likely to get a yes. 

Nervous about reaching out? Not sure what to even ask during the interview? Here are some of our best tips from CCES career advisors. 

  1. Use J-Term!
    • With a full 6 weeks, J-Term is the perfect time to conduct informational interviews. Whether they be in the Cincinnati area, your home city or a city you’re looking to move to, you’ve got more than enough time to set up at least a few. If you can’t be there in person, ask for a phone interview! 
  2. What should I ask? 
    • Any questions about work, culture, environment, etc. are great: How did you get started? What are your day-to-day responsibilities, tasks, projects that you work on? What do you like the least/most about your role? What is the company culture and work environment like? What do the professional development steps look like for advancement?
    • A good question to ask to help you continue networking: Is there anyone else that you would recommend that I speak to as I continue my internship/job search? 
  3. How do I find people to interview? 
    • Use LinkedIn – you can search employees at specific companies, people who work in specific industries/job titles, alumni from Miami, alumni in your city; the possibilities are endless. 
    • Miami Alumni Connect – essentially the same thing as LinkedIn, except it’s specifically for Miami students and Miami alumni!
    • Ask family and friends if they know anybody. 
  4. How do I ask for an interview? 
    • You can ask for the interview via email, LinkedIn messaging or in person if you have that kind of access. 
    • What to put in the actual message: 
      • Ask for help (“I’m hoping you’ll be able to help me out…” “I’m looking for help with deciding my career path and…”)
      • Be clear: ask for something specific, like a phone call or meeting over coffee.
      • Make it personalized (“I really admire your career path…” “Since you went to Miami I thought you’d be a great source of information…”)
      • Be considerate of their time and schedule, and don’t make it seem like you’re looking for a job from them. 
  5. Be prepared to talk about yourself
    • While the point of an informational interview is to learn about the person you’re interviewing, chances are they’ll ask you some questions about what you want your career to look like, what you’re doing at school, etc. – so have some answers ready!

Still have questions about informational interviews? Stop by CCES and speak to your career advisor or attend our on-demand career advising sessions.