SUU Career Center

Informational Interview Tips

Protocol

  1. Before the interview, use employer websites, LinkedIn, and web search to learn as much as you can about the position, the organization, and the individual you will interview.
  2. Dress professionally for in-person or video interviews.
  3. Build the connection by asking for advice. Do not ask for a job!
  4. Listen actively and take notes. Avoid distractions and keep your cell phone off!
  5. Be sharp. Although you are not asking for a job, this process can frequently lead to opportunities for or mentoring or jobs.
  6. Follow up with a thank you message/email/card.

Questions to Ask

Work Details

  • What do you love about the work you do?*
  • What does a typical day look like?
  • What percentage of your day is spent doing which activities?
  • What kinds of decisions do you make?
  • What are the biggest challenges?*
  • What are the various work roles in this field or organization?
  • Does your position stay fairly consistent, or does it change throughout the course of the year?
  • What are the major rewards aside from pay? (Fringe benefits, travel, satisfaction, etc.?)
  • Which skills and talents are most essential to be effective in your position?
  • What do you wish you had known before starting this type of work?

Other

  • What other jobs could you get with a similar background?
  • What types of changes are occurring with your occupation?
  • If your position were suddenly eliminated, what kinds of work do you feel prepared to move to?
  • What other kinds of organizations hire people to perform the functions you do?
  • Who do you know with similar jobs that I might talk to?

Work Preparation

  • What things did you do before you began this type of work?
    • Which have been the most helpful?
  • Can you suggest some ways a student could obtain the necessary experience?
  • What kinds of experience, paid or unpaid, would you encourage for someone pursuing a career in this field?
  • What are the typical entry-level job titles and functions?
  • What entry-level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
  • What are the educational/credential/licensure requirements for the work that you do? Is graduate school recommended?
  • How important are grades or GPA for obtaining a job in this field?
  • If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?
  • Is there any written material you suggest I read?
  • Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?
  • How does someone progress in your field? What is a typical career path?
  • These are my strongest assets (skills, areas of knowledge, personality traits, and values): _______________. Where would they fit in this field?

*These are the two most important questions. “What do you love about the work you do?” is a great start to get them talking. “What are the biggest challenges?” helps you determine whether the pros of this work outweigh the cons.