A Quick Guide to Mastering Informational Interviews

Young lady giving an interview advice to a college student

Have you ever felt a sense of curiosity about a particular industry or career path, wanting to gather valuable insights from professionals actively working in that field? If so, you’re not alone. Many individuals aspiring to a particular career seek guidance by conducting informational interviews. In this blog post, we will dive into the world of informational interviews, covering topics such as the benefits, how to schedule one, effective questions to ask, and more.

What is an Informational Interview?

An informational interview is a purposeful conversation between you and a professional in your chosen field. While it might resemble a typical job interview, the key distinction lies in your objective – instead of aiming for a job offer, your focus is gathering information and insights. Although it could eventually result in landing a job offer, the primary goal is to gain a deeper understanding of a specific industry, job role, or organization directly from someone with firsthand experience.

Benefits of Informational Interviews

Networking Opportunities – Form authentic connections with professionals who can provide guidance, mentorship, or potential job openings.

Career Path Clarification – If you’re uncertain about your career path, informational interviews allow you to explore options without commitment. Hear firsthand experiences to align your interests and aspirations.

Improving Professional Etiquette – Informational interviews are a chance to enhance your professional etiquette. From crafting outreach messages to creating an effective elevator pitch, you’ll develop essential skills that extend beyond the conversation.

For tips on polishing your elevator pitch, check out our Polish Your Personal Elevator Pitch blog.

Understanding the Job Market– Gain insights into the dynamics of the job market. Setting up an informational interview can offer real-time information on industry changes, opportunities, and in-demand skills, helping you strategically navigate your path.

How to Set Up an Informational Interview

  1. Identify your goals and targets – Before diving into a meeting, clarify your objectives. What do you hope to achieve through these conversations? Whether seeking career advice or specific information about a company, having clear goals will guide your approach.
  2. Research and identify potential contacts – Utilize platforms like LinkedIn to research professionals in your desired field. Alumni can also be valuable contacts. The NCT Career Services team can assist in connecting you with an alum willing to share their knowledge.
    To book an appointment with a member of the Career Services team or for more information, contact careerservices@niagaracollegetoronto.ca.
  3. Craft the perfect elevator pitch or message – When reaching out to potential interviewees, ensure you have a well-prepared elevator pitch. Craft a personalized and concise message introducing yourself, explaining your interest in the field, and expressing a desire to learn from them. Highlight similarities to establish a connection.
  4. Prepare for your meeting – Gather topics you want to discuss and formulate thoughtful questions. This will showcase your genuine interest and ensure you make the most of the limited time with your interviewee. Consider asking about their career journey and the skills they find most valuable in their field and seek advice.

Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview

Now that you’ve successfully set up your informational interview, the next step is to ask the right questions. Here are some common and insightful questions to guide your conversation:

  1. Can you describe your career journey and how you got to where you are today?
  2. What challenges have you encountered in your career?
  3. What skills and qualities do you consider essential for success in this field?
  4. How can someone breaking into this industry stand out to employers?
  5. What advice would you give to someone starting their career in this field?

Career Services