Getting the most out of informational interviews

27 Oct 2021

An informational interview is, in essence, an opportunity to gain information and real-life experience about a particular industry, career or company that interests you. Although informational interviewing can be largely overlooked, mainly because it is misunderstood, it’s important to focus on getting the information you want - it’s not about a job offer. As such, do your research before setting about informational interviewing to get the best out of the experience: “Showing that you’ve done your background research plants the idea of credibility in the other person’s mind,” says Dorie Clark, author of Stand Out Networking. 


Knowing what you want out of your informational interview

First of all, identify what information you want. Of course, making a decision on which role, company or industry you want to learn more about will depend on your chosen career path. But whatever job you’re going for, it’s essential to recognise what’s important to you and what you want out of the job. 


Plan your question-asking agenda

You’ve requested this meeting, but don’t think that the person you’ve chosen for your informational interview will offer the correct information without you asking the right questions. Choose questions that will provide you with the most information, be concise and efficient and make the most of your allotted time. 


Be professional

Discover as much about the company ahead of the interview, which will help you to ask more informed questions. “Showing that you’ve done your background research plants the idea of credibility in the other person’s mind,” according to John Lees, a UK-based career strategist. It’s also important to dress correctly for the role you’re seeking. 


Be prepared to answer questions as well as ask

You may be asked how your job search is going, or about the particular position you’re looking for. It would be advisable to have a short statement ready that you could present if you’re asked about your search. Take a copy of your CV with you but don’t offer it unless you’re asked. After all, this is an informational interview, not about getting a job offer. “You want to leave people with a positive impression and enough information to recommend you to others,” Lees adds. 



Send a thank-you letter after the interview to express your gratitude for the person’s time and information. Make sure you keep in touch with contacts to let them know how you’ve put their advice and suggestions to good use.