I’ve now written a series of posts on conducting an informational interview. I’ve discussed how many people utilize the informational interview as a job hunting tool, taking advantage of such opportunities to network and meet new people, find out about potential job leads, ask for referrals, and gain insights to an industry or a particular company. I’ve also discussed how conducting an informational interview can provide a great way to learn more about the careers and majors that you are interested in. If you haven’t checked out these previous posts yet or want to review them again, they’re here:
Let’s get on with this post!
In this post, I’ll share a particularly effective way to keep track of the important information from your informational interview.
Take the time the reflect and analyze
To maximize the benefits of an informational interview, take the time to reflect on the information that you collect from your informational interview. In addition to the actual information that you receive and your ensuing thoughts and reflections about the information, think about what you would have done differently if you could do the same interview over again. For instance, was there a particular question that you would have included? Make those mental notes as soon as possible after an informational interview so that you can improve your ability for the next time that you do one – it’s been my experience that once students do one interview, they express how they want to do more of them.
Unless you have an excellent memory that enables you to recall what you’ve learned from your informational interview, consider putting your thoughts and reflections down on paper, or more likely directly into your computer.
Write your own informational interview report
If you choose to write or type out your thoughts, the following guidelines provide points to think about as you reflect on your informational interview experience. Actually, these guidelines are essentially the instructions for an assignment called “Informational Interview Report” that I have students complete in a career exploration class. So now, if you think it’ll benefit you, you can do your own informational interview write up.
Assignment and purpose
Interview a person who has a career in the area in which you are interested, or someone who studied a major in which you are interested, in order to find out more about that particular career field or major choice.
Suggested guidelines of what to put in your write up
1. Begin your paper with an introduction consisting of background information.
- Share how you came across this person that you interviewed.
- Share how you made the request to interview this person.
2. Present the content of your informational interview.
- You can include all or most of your questions and the responses, or you can summarize the questions and responses and present selected examples.
3. Include a discussion of the information that you gathered.
- Share whether any of the information was new to you.
- Share how much of the information you already knew.
- Share whether any of the information was particularly interesting.
- Share whether the information help to create a positive or negative impression regarding the career or major.
4. End your paper with a conclusion.
- Provide an evaluation of whether the informational interview helped you to clarify your next steps in choosing a major or pursuing a career path.
- Discuss what was the overall experience like.
- Discuss whether the informational interview was helpful—if yes, then how? If not, then why not.
- If you could do it all over again, would you do anything differently with your informational interview? Are there new questions that you would’ve like to have included?
5. Just a reminder here: be sure to send a thank-you note or e-mail to the interviewee within 2 days of the informational interview.
Some important tips for conducting an informational interview
- Be sure to understand the purpose of doing an informational interview and the keys to conducting an effective informational interview.
- Make sure you’ve done your homework and researched the career (or major) before you do your informational interview. Preparation can benefit you as you can make a positive first impression.
- Though it might be preferable to interview someone face-to-face, consider alternative formats, like interviewing someone by telephone, e-mail, or chat.
- Check out my list of favorite informational interviewing questions for ideas on what questions you might want to ask.
- Refer to examples of informational interview write ups on a variety of careers and majors:
- Accounting and Finance Consultant
- Animal Care Facility Owner
- Attorney (Business Law)
- Business Consultant
- Chemical Engineer
- Child Development Major
- Childcare Program Director
- College Art Instructor
- Communications Degree
- Creative Director, TV Broadcasting Company
- Environmental Science Major
- Field Recording Engineer
- General Manager (Motel)
- Graphic Designer
- Guidance Counselor
- Human Resources Manager
- Middle School Teacher
- Musical Theater
- Personal Trainer
- Process Development Director
- Project Manager in Construction
- Respiratory Therapist
- Respiratory Therapist
- Registered Nurse