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What are some tips for informational interviews?

Conducting an informational interview with a professional is a great way to gain insight into a career field while also building an important connection. Informational interviews are a meeting with someone in a field of interest that you can speak with about their career.

Before reaching out, be sure to review the Building Professional Relationships Presentation to guide you in reaching out to a potential mentor/professional for an informational interview.

Important Do’s and Don’ts

Understand a mentor may have a conflict in their scheduleReject a phone conversation
Be attentive and make the most of your timeBe inattentive and waste time
Be confident and earnest to get good adviceBe timid and avoid asking things you may be wondering
Be cautious and act professionallyAsk overly personal/ financial questions
Ask about their experiences and tipsAsk to be hired or referred for hiring

How can I conduct an informational interview?

  1. If you haven’t already, create a LinkedIn profile. Having a LinkedIn profile is a great way to connect with employers, build your network, gain career advice, and learn about new opportunities.
  2. Visit the Brooklyn College Alumni LinkedIn page.
  3. In the search bar, type in a field that is of interest to you. For example, if you are looking to learn more about a career in investment and finance, type in “banking,” and then “finance.” This will give you access to Brooklyn College alumni who are currently in this particular field.
  4. Connect! Request to connect with the alum, but do not send the automated response. Instead, write a short statement explaining why you are interested in conducting an informational interview with them.

If you have acquired the email address of an alum you are interested in speaking to, send them a professional email. We also have templates you can use when contacting/emailing them.

Before Meeting

  • Research the career/industry/company beforehand so you are better prepared and can maximize how you use your mentor.
  • Think about what you are hoping to gain from the conversation, and prepare a list of questions.
  • When you write them back to confirm when you will be talking, include a few questions you plan to ask to help them prepare ahead of time. Your questions can range from learning about a career field, researching an organization, or searching for job opportunities. Write down or print your list of questions to bring to the meeting.
  • Contact the alumna/alumnus 1-2 days prior to the meeting to confirm the meeting time and/or place. Let them know you look forward to meeting them.
  • Although you should be arriving on time, get their direct phone number just in case you are running late due to an emergency and give them your cell phone number.
  • Bring your resume. Sometimes the contact may ask for it or you can offer to leave it behind for the person’s reference.
  • Prepare your attire. Dress in business casual attire (no sneakers, jeans, t-shirts etc).
  • Write down some thoughts on what you would say, if they say tell me about yourself.

During Meeting

  • Plan to arrive about 15 minutes ahead of the actual scheduled time, if in person or 5 minutes before if meeting online. DO NOT BE LATE.
  • Bring your list of questions with you
  • Have a pen and pad handy and ask them if it would be okay for you to take notes. Most people would think what they are saying is not valuable if you are not jotting it down.
  • Bring your resume and list of questions with you
  • Always be attentive and pleasant.
  • Tips when connecting via the phone or online
    • Have a good connection 
    • If connecting via Zoom, Google Meet etc, test your camera, microphone, connection etc. at least 15 minutes before.
    • Make sure you are in a quiet place where you can give them your undivided attention. 
    • Write up a brief script about what you are going to say when you call. 
  • Always ask, at the end of the Informational Interview, for any suggested resources and if the interviewer would be willing to give you the names and email addresses of one or two colleagues or friends who would also be willing to share his or her experiences and information with you.
  • This will expand your network quickly.
  • Ask them if it would be okay for you to follow-up with them in the future if you had any questions.

After the Meeting

  • Take time to reflect on what you have learned. Have you obtained the information you were seeking?
  • Send a thank-you letter expressing your appreciation. It’s important to show to the interviewer that you are thankful for their time and advice. Follow up with them after your interview, express your gratitude, and make sure to keep in touch.
  • Make notes after the interview for future reference. Record the contact information of the person you met with. Keep this information on file.
  • Keep in touch from time to time informing them of your career developments. This is an integral part of developing a life-long network in which both you and your contacts are familiar with each other and can call upon one another when the need arises.

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