Informational Interviews

In the business world, interviews are the heart and soul of finding jobs. It is a tedious process that can seem very overwhelming. Although all interviews seem to be questioning you, there are some interviews that you can use to question employers. This is called an informational interview. An informational interview is often a casual, off-the-record conversation with someone experienced in an industry or area of interest to you, as well as a good way to explore different careers/career paths. This can help you understand the fundamentals of an organization and its daily task requirements. Many people mistake informational interviews to ask for job opportunities, but this is not the case. Use this time to understand the firm and industry rather than asking for opportunities. 

There are many benefits to informational interviews.

  1. Receiving firsthand information about the field, industry, or positions. This allows you to get information about the requirements of a job that sometimes are not posted on the job website.
  2. You can also find out about career paths that you didn’t know existed previously. Employers can explain these career paths in greater detail, which allows you to understand which path is better for you.
  3. This is less stressful than regular job interviews because it does not carry the same weightage, and it can allow you to learn more about the day-to-day, which can help you relate it to your strengths and weaknesses in a job interview later on.
  4. You may receive tips and tricks in order to strengthen your application, and what you may or may not want to include in your cover letter to pass the Applicant Tracking System and have you continue on to get an interview!
  5. You can ask about topics that may not be appropriate in an actual interview, such as: salary, benefits, and hours you may be working.
  6. This will also help you build relationships to expand your network. Having a strong network is very beneficial for the job hunt!

Below, are steps listed in order to conduct an informational interview:

  1. This is still an opportunity to represent yourself and your college, so make sure to make a good impression! Dress in regular business attire, considering this is a good way of showing that you care and are professional.
  2. Prior to the informational interview, do some research on the company and the person you are speaking to. It is important to know the background of your interviewee and their current position.
  3. Try to identify Baruch alumni in the company to speak to, because chances are you will form a stronger connection and they could vouch for you! A good way to reach out to anyone is through LinkedIn, email or phone.
    1. Always important to state how you got their information if using a phone or email.
    2. If you are calling the person, make sure to be respectful and ask if the person is free to talk, and be prepared with questions on the spot if they tell you to ask your questions right then and there.
  4. Make sure to prepare questions! This informational interview is to help you, take full advantage of the time the interviewee is providing you with.
    1. It’s always a good sign if you bring a notepad/notebook to take notes and write things down.
  5. Since you have questions prepared, the interviewee does as well! Be ready with an elevator pitch ready to go in case they ask you to tell them about yourself and your purpose during this informational interview.
  6. Keep it brief. Don’t take up too much time, and stay within the time frame that was agreed upon prior.
  7. Ask if you may contact them again in the future if you have other questions.
  8. Bring a resume, just in case, but don’t take it out until they ask for it. If you hand them a resume it may seem that you are looking for a job rather than information.
  9. Finally, it is important to follow up with your interviewee! Send a thank you note in 1-2 business days.
    1. In the thank you note, express your appreciation for their time and information provided. Briefly list the information that was talked about as well. 
    2. If this was a nice interaction with the interviewee, keep in contact with them and let them know the outcome of their advice!

Informational interview questions are to help you understand the company and what they stand for. It would be smart to ask questions that could not be answered with a quick google search. Considering that you will be asking a lot of questions, it would be helpful to bring a notebook to take notes, but make sure it is okay with the interviewee to take notes; make sure you aren’t writing so much that it is interrupting your interview and taking up a lot of time. Listed below are a few questions that may be helpful to ask:

Occupational Questions:

  1. What duties are being performed during the typical day, week, month, year? Is there a set routine that the interviewee follows? Ask what skills are needed to perform these duties. 
  2. What educational program is recommended as preparation?
  3. What programs are valuable to help gain skills that are necessary for the occupation?
  4. What degree or certificate do employers look for?
  5. What kind of work/internship experience would employers look for in a job applicant, how does a person go about obtaining this experience?
  6. What are the important keywords or buzzwords to include in a resume or cover letter to pass through the Applicant Tracking System?
  7. What are the different settings in which people in this occupation may work?
  8. What other positions in this company interact with your position?
  9. What are the different salary ranges? 
  10. Where are the best employment prospects? 
  11. Does the typical worker in your position have a set schedule, or are the hours flexible?
  12. Is remote work a possibility?
  13. What type of programs and technology is used in the company?
  14. What do you know now, that would have been helpful when you first started at the company?
  15. What are the opportunities for advancement, and to what position? Is there an advanced degree needed?

Functional Questions:

  1. How many hours do you work?
  2. What are the greatest pressures, strains, or anxieties in the work that you do?
  3. What are some major job responsibilities?
  4. What sort of education do you have?
  5. What are some satisfying aspects of your work?
  6. Do you think I left out any key questions that could be helpful to learn more about the job or industry?

These are just some of the questions that could be helpful to ask. Make sure to do some research on more questions that could be helpful to ask in your field/industry. Informational Interviews are super helpful to get an understanding of particular job positions and industries. Make sure to take advantage of this opportunity and good luck!


Leave a Reply