conduct an information interview

Conducting an information interview allows you to examine career fields which you are interested in and gives you opportunities to meet and network with industry insiders! 

An information interview is an appointment that you schedule with a particular individual for the purpose of gaining valuable information from an insider’s point of view. If you are in the process of choosing a major, making career decisions, changing career, or beginning a job hunt, these interviews may help you explore your possibilities.

  • Be prepared and professional
  • Know your values, interests, and skills and how they relate to the career field represented by the person(s) you will be interviewing.
  • Research your occupation or industry before contacting volunteers so you can ask effective questions.
  • Know exactly what information you want by having a list of questions in mind.Be sure to note how the volunteer wishes to be contacted, and be respectful of that request.
  • Read about the career area and organization of the person you will be interviewing.
  • Check for any websites associated with them, their organization, or career field.
  • You may also want to ask the organization for any annual reports, brochures, etc. that can’t be found online. 

Our trained Career Peer Assistant can help you practice your oral communication and analytical skills by visiting our office at the Administration Building.

Where Do I Find Potential Contacts?

  • Ask friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, and former employers.
  • Attend meetings (local, state, regional) for professional associations in your field(s) of interest.
  • Call community service agencies and trade or professional organizations (Chamber of Commerce, Information Management Association, etc.) and review their websites.
  • Scan the Yellow Pages and articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals.Contact faculty, personnel, other University offices, and The Career Center, which has names of many employer contacts and their business cards.

How Do I Arrange an Interview?

  • Phone or email to explain your request and arrange an appointment. Email request are usually most effective if followed up by phone to confirm an appointment time.
  • If possible, introduce yourself through a personal referral (e.g., “I’m Jessica Long, a sophomore at MUST. I found your name in The Career Center’s Database”).
  • Explain your request to schedule an appointment for gathering information about their field of work. Indicate clearly that you are not applying for a job at this time.
  • If the person you are trying to reach is not in, you can leave a message or ask when you can call back. Try to schedule a 20-30 minute appointment to be conducted by phone or in person at their convenience.
  • If you would like to speak with the individual in person, attempt to avoid letting your phone all to schedule the appointment turn into an actual interview. However, you should be prepared to conduct interview over the phone.
  • If you are able to schedule an on-site visit, remember to ask for directions and parking information.

On The Information Interview

What Do I Do During the Interview?

  • Do not exceed your requested time, but be prepared to stay longer if the contact indicates a willingness to continue talking.
  • Dress as if it is an actual job interview. 
  • Get to your appointment a few minutes early, and be courteous to everyone that you meet at the office.
  • Take the initiative in conducting the interview – you are the interviewer! Ask open-ended questions, which cannot be answered with a yes or no.
  • Once inside the organization, look around. What is the work environment like? Would you want to work there?

What Should I DO After the Interview?


  • How did you manage in scheduling and conducting the interview?
  • How well did you prepare?
  • Did you get the information you sought?What information do you still lack?
  • Do you need to interview others to obtain more than one viewpoint?
  • What do you need to do next?

Follow up with a note thanking your contact for his/her time and interest. You may want to include your conclusions and decisions resulting from the interview. Eventually send a resume and an application letter or form. Record the information you obtained, including names, comments, and new referrals for future reference. Consider making appointments to interview referrals.

What Questions Can I Ask?

  • Background – Tell me how you got started in this field. What educational background or related experience might be helpful in entering this field.
  • Work Environment – What are the daily duties of your job? What skills/abilities are utilized in this work?
  • Problems – What are the toughest problems you face? What problems does the organization as a whole have? What is being done to solve them.
  • Lifestyle – What obligation does your work put on you outside the work week?Rewards – What do you find most rewarding about this work?
  • Salary – What salary level would a new person start with? What are the benefits?
  • Potential – Where do you see yourself going in a few years? What are your long-term goals?
  • Promotional – Is turnover high? How does one move from position to position? How many have held this job in the last five years? How are employees evaluated?
  • Job Market – How do people find out about your jobs? Are they advertised on the web, in the newspaper, by word of mouth, by the human resources office, etc.?
  • Industry – What trends do you see for this industry in the next three to five years? What kind of future do you see for this organization?
  • Demand – What types of employers hire people in this line of work? What other career areas do you feel are related to your work?
  • Hiring decision – What are the most important factors used to hire people in this industry (education, past experience, personality, special skills)? Who makes the hiring decisions?
  • Referral to others – Based on the conversation today, what other types of people do you believe I should contact? May I have your permission to use your name when I contact them?
  • Advice – How well-suited is my background for this field? What experience, paid or volunteer, would you recommend? What suggestions do you help make my resume a more effective marketing tool?