Informational interviewing puts YOU in the driver’s seat of an interview. When you are exploring different majors and career options, informational interviewing gives you the opportunity to ask professionals all the questions that you really want to know about a company or occupation. This is typically a short, 20 to 30 minute meeting, preferably in person at their place of employment. Face to face is always best as it helps you to establish a closer relationship with the professional. However, if the professional is too far away, or doesn't have time to meet, ask if you can set up a phone interview or if they would be willing to answer questions over email.

Who should I contact?

Start with people you already know who might be in career fields or occupations that you are interested in. This will help you to get comfortable with the process. Then reach out to people that you don't know yet to learn about majors and related career options, occupations, companies, industries, and career paths that are interesting to you. Utilize resources such as the local Chamber of Commerce business directories and LinkedIn to get connected to professionals.

What do I say?

When you are reaching out to professionals, you want to start by introducing yourself and your common interests. Then you want to ask if they would be willing to meet with you for 30 minutes or so to answer some questions about their company/organization and career path. MOST people are happy to help and share their stories and expertise. If you do run into someone who’s not, simply move on and find someone else to contact. EXAMPLE: "Hi, my name is Sara and I am a current student at OSU-Cascades in the Tourism and Outdoor Leadership program. I am very interested in what you do and potentially working for a company like Sun Country Tours in the future. I was wondering if you would be willing to meet with me briefly to answer a few questions about your career path and company, and to share any advice that you might have for me as I am looking to pursue a career in the tourism industry."

What questions should I ask?

Your questions are going to depend on what you really want to know, but there is a list of example questions at the bottom of this page to help get you started. It is best to think about your questions beforehand and to bring a list of questions with you to the interview. This will show that you are prepared and particularly interested in what they do.

The interview is over, now what?

Just as you would send a thank you card after a real interview, you want to do the same after an informational interview. It doesn’t have to be long, but a hand written note expressing gratitude for their time and advice goes a long way. In addition to thanking them, mention your interest in future opportunities at their company and that you look forward to keeping in touch.

Example Informational Interviewing Questions

  • What are your main responsibilities?
  • Describe what a typical work day is like for you?
  • What has been your career path that has led you to this position?
  • What experiences, skills, and education are necessary for a person to be successful in this role?
  • What do you like most/least about your job?
  • How have you been able to develop/move up within the company?
  • How did your academic background prepare you for this position?
  • What are the greatest challenges that people face in this role.
  • What are the typical entry level positions in this field?
  • What is the salary range for this type of position?
  • How would you describe your current work environment?
  • What is the work/life balance like in this position/field/company?
  • What meaning do you find in the work that you do?
  • What other local organizations hire people in this field?
  • Is this a competitive field to get into?
  • What advice do you have for me if I want to pursue a career in this field?
  • What professional associations would you recommend that I get involved in?
  • Can you suggest any additional resources that I should look into to learn more?
  • What are some of the emerging trends or challenges that you are facing?
  • Can you think of anything else that would be important for me to know or consider as I move forward?
  • Could you refer me to one or two other people in the field that I should connect with to learn more?
  • Would you mind if I connected with you on LinkedIn and stayed in touch for potential future questions?