What is an Informational Interview?

What Is an Informational Interview?
An informational interview is an opportunity to meet someone doing work that peaks your curiosity. This is an excellent tool to use while in career transition, because an informational interview gives you the opportunity to learn more, connect with people and expand your network.
How Do I Find Someone to Interview?
First, brainstorm work that peaks your curiosity, and second, find someone doing that work. I recommend starting with your network to see if anyone is in that field. You can also ask your network if they know anyone in that career.

I like to think of our network in tiers similar to the circles in a bullseye.

  • Tier 1 = close friends and family
  • Tier 2 = friends you see less frequently and co-workers
  • Tier 3 = friends you see a couple times a year
  • Tier 4 =  acquaintances and friends of friends

When you first  begin informational interviewing, start with tier 1. Then move out to the other tiers as you build your confidence and courage. I am a huge fan of doing several dozen informational interviews during your career transition.

The process serves in building your network but also provides a parallel process of opening your perspectives and feeling of hope. Often, clients feel stuck, burned out, and maybe even a bit hopeless when they first start their career transition. The opportunities from these interviews is endless. I have actually witnessed people get purpose work through this powerful tool. The important thing is to stay open minded and self-aware.
How It Works?
Reach out to the person doing the work you are interested in and ask them for 30 to 60 minutes of their time. If you can meet in person, that is best, otherwise you could use FaceTime or Skype.

The main objective of an informational interview is to listen generously and really allow the person you are interviewing to share their perspective and experience. Keep the focus on the person.

It is also important to remember that this is a subjective opinion, so while in the interview, you want to be tracking your internal resonance and dissonance while the person speaks. Compare their experience with your personal values, because what lights them up may not light you up.
Here are some suggested questions to ask the person you are interviewing:
What do you most enjoy about your work?

  1. Please, tell me about your career journey?
  2. What challenges do you find in your specific career and industry?
  3. What advice would you give someone new who is wanting to get into this field?
  4. What type of education is needed, if any?
  5. What do you like and dislike about your organization?
  6. Do you see this industry growing in the future?
  7. What are you most proud of in your career?
  8. What is the salary range?

Before you end the interview, if you find that you are really excited about the work, ask that person for 2 to 3 referrals of other individuals you could also interview.

Utilizing informational interviews is a powerful way to keep you empowered and connected during your career transition.