How to Successfully Navigate an Informational Interview by Hunter Lindgren

Eller PDC Coordinator Student Stories

Whether you’re looking into a career path, job opportunity, or post-undergraduate education, a great opportunity to get your questions and concerns answered is by having an informational interview. An informational interview is where you reach out to someone presumably in the field, school, or company that you are interested in, and ask if they would be willing to have a phone or video call with you in order to learn more about your shared interest. There are so many different ways an informational interview can be of help to people pursuing more information, so below I have outlined some of the best practices using the Bear Down Network that you can use to lock and rock an informational interview.

Using Filters

The Bear Down Network has made your job easier when searching for people to ask for an informational interview with. If you look at the screenshot below, you can see a visual aid. If you first go to the directory page, you can see on the right hand side there is the “filter by” section. You can use this to find students, alumni, or faculty that align with a professional you would be interested in connecting with. From there, you can click on their name and see within their profile how they are willing to help indicated by the blue banner above their profile photo. This should be your key to know that you shouldn’t be nervous about reaching out because the people have already stated they are willing to help U of A students and Alumni!

Being Courteous and Concise

The next step is crafting the message. Even though this professional might have stated they are willing to help, it’s important to be nice and to the point when asking them for an interview. They are normal people just like you so make sure to reach out to them just like you would like to be reached out to. Introduce yourself and explain why you’re reaching out, then ask if they have time for a phone call or informational interview. Make sure to use professional formatting as well much like you would address an email. Once you’ve done this, you will be ready to send it away. It could take some time to hear back but that’s okay, and while you’re waiting maybe you can find another person to reach out to.

You’ve landed the interview, now what?

Your interviewer got back to you and would love to speak with you. Great job! Now the next step is to not only set up a time for a phone call, or video if that is something you/the interviewer would prefer. To prepare for the informational interview, make sure to come with at least 8-10 questions that you wish to have answered. Make a connection with your interviewer as well, get to know them as they will want to get to know you which means preparing a short intro or elevator pitch about yourself! Finally, informational interviews last anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. Feel free to clarify how long your interviewer has in emails prior to your interview.

It’s time to wrap up!

You’ve got to ask your questions and had a great information interview. Sometimes informational interviews could lead to door opening at a workplace, which can be amazing, but other time the interviewer might not have that ability. So make sure to wrap up the interview kindly no matter what so that you can keep a positive connection with them. Lastly, always follow up with a “Thank You” email. This can go an extremely long way.

That is it! If you are able to follow these best practices and be yourself, you’ll be landing and having great informational interviews that help you put yourself in the best place moving forward!