Informational Interview: Interview Questions, Request Email, Definition [2020]

informational interview

An informational interview is a session between you, the job seeker, and a professional who works at the business you’d like to be employed at. This interview is not a formal job interview and won’t have any merit on your ability to be hired within the business or receiving a job application. But it can be a helpful process to learn what the company values, what the company is working on, how to target your cover letter, resume, and other job application assets to the employer and more.

Informational interviews are a great way to earn an internal advocate when seeking a position at a company. By asking the right questions to the professional you’re speaking with and earning their trust that you have a strong passion for the business and career field, this professional can speak with the hiring manager or human resources department to find a position for you.

Core benefits of an informational interview

All of the information that this can provide is why an informational interview can be very impactful to you in your job search. Not only are you able to learn more about your industry and build a network of professionals who can help you with your career, but you can learn more about job opportunities within the organization ahead of time.

How to ask for an informational interview

Asking for an informational interview is easy. Find a professional within an organization or business that you admire. Or find a professional whose work that you admire. And then send a brief note describing who you are, what you’ve already achieved with your career, and how speaking with them can help you. Here’s an example:

Subject line: Love your work, have a minute?

Hey Mark—

I really loved your work with X. It inspired me throughout my career. I’ve been able to increase sales 32% at XYZ Company and am looking to get into a management role. I really love the ZYX company you’re part of. Can we sit down for lunch so I can learn more about the company and what advice you might give me about the industry?

Thank you Mark,
John

Many professionals meet these other professionals through social media. Tools like LinkedIn and Twitter provide ample ground to make connections and networking easier.

Best time and place to have an informational interview

The best time and place to have an informational interview is during the middle of the week and during lunch hours or after work hours. Remember that for the person you’re networking with, they are going to be taking time out of their workday to be helping you. Providing them a free lunch or some other type of compensation for their time can be a great way to exchange value. Any day between Tuesday and Friday would be best for an informational interview.

Goals as an interviewee

Because this is not a job interview, your goals as an interviewee will be slightly different. Leaving a good impression is going to be your objective. You want the professional to feel strongly about your career path and feel as though they would want to recommend you within the business simply because it will make them look great, as well. This mutually beneficial relationship is what will make a successful informational interview.

Remember that informational interviewing is not a job interview. This should be focused on the two professionals having an open conversation regarding what they’re working on, how they got to where they are in their career field, what advice they can exchange, what value they can exchange, and then take it from there.

Informational interview questions

Below are sample questions you can use to get an idea of what types of information you might be looking for from your informational interview conversation. You should come to the meeting with prepared questions.

These great questions should provide you ample framework for your own informational interview question cultivation. Good luck with your informational interview.

Related Hiring Resources

Best Thank You Email After an Informational Interview (+ Free Template) [2020]
author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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