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Informational Interviews

An informational interview is a method of conducting in-person research for the purpose of gathering up-to-date information about possible career options and/or potential employer organizations. An informational interview is a career research and job search tool that offers face-to-face contact with people who can provide you with relevant information, suggest potential job leads or even offer you a job. Valuable career information and strategies can come from meeting people who are in a career field or organization that is of interest to you.

Conduct an Informational Interview

Step One: Research the Industry / Organization and Prepare for the Interview

  • Prior to contacting people directly, do some research. Gather basic information about the career field or the organization and identify what information you hope to learn.
  • Review the Informational Interviewing booklet (available in print at the Career Centre) and select relevant questions to guide your discussion.

Step Two: Set Up a Meeting

  • Find potential contacts using a variety of resources: the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) database in Navigator, LinkedIn, professional associations, networking events, professors or other professionals you know and Career Centre events.
  • Reach out to your contacts by email and ensure that your correspondence is professional and concise. Introduce yourself and politely indicate your reason for connecting with them. Remember, you are not asking for a job, but a meeting to collect information. 
  • See the Career Centre’s Informational Interviews booklet for more sample email or telephone scripts.

Ten Thousand Coffees

Join the Laurier Hub on Ten Thousand Coffees for the opportunity to connect with Laurier alumni and learn first-hand about the careers they have successfully pursued.

Create a profile, find connections and schedule a time for a coffee chat with an alum. Whether you are in the process of choosing a career, preparing for a job interview or exploring where your major or degree might lead you, this is an excellent way to gather information and learn from Laurier alumni.

Step Three: Present Yourself Professionally

  • Your goal for the meeting is to gather information, build rapport and ask for guidance.
  • Arrive at the meeting with some knowledge of the field and of the specific organization.
  • Ensure that you arrive at least 10 minutes early for the interview.
  • Dress and conduct yourself professionally as if you were at an actual job interview.
  • Remember, this is your interview, so you will be expected to initiate the questions and facilitate the discussion.
  • Be prepared to talk about yourself as well. Prepare your elevator pitch (self-introduction).
  • Be sure to exchange business cards as you will need this information for follow up and they may use your information for future opportunities.
  • Do not overstay your welcome. If you agreed to 20 minutes, track the time, indicate when the agreed-upon time has passed and be prepared to leave. However, the professional may have more time available, so ensure your schedule will allow for a longer conversation to take place.
  • Taking notes will help you to stay organized after the meeting and shows respect to your contact.
  • Relax and enjoy the discussion; be friendly and genuine and smile.

Step Four: Develop Your Relationships

  • In order to build your network, request names of other contacts. Consider asking “Is there anyone else you would recommend with whom I could speak in a similar or related area?”
  • Ask if you may use your contact’s name when contacting new referrals.
  • Remember you have knowledge as well. Look for ways to give back and share information and resources.

Step Five: Thank You and Staying in Touch

  • Always send a brief thank-you note or email after the informational interview to make a professional impression. Mention something you learned or found interesting about the meeting.
  • Inform your initial contact when you follow up with a referral or suggestion.
  • Keep track of whom you have met with so that you can refer back to your notes in the future and identify action steps in your career development.
  • Keep your contacts informed of your progress.