Have you Conducted an Informational Interview?

Informational Interviews

Post #16 You Can Learn From Engineering Professionals

If you can conduct informational interviews, you will gain ammunition to help yourself shape your future.  For those who do not know, an informational interview is your opportunity to ask working professionals career-related questions.  You essentially are learning about their thought processes, what works for them and what doesn’t.  Why does this matter to you?  It matters because you get exposures from a professional point of view.  These interviewees may be in the exact job you want or in the exact job you may have.  Your purpose right now as a student is to put yourself in the best position to make deliberate choices about your future.

Informational Interview Sources

Potential Informational Interview Sources

Number one, if you use social media, that is an excellent source to be able to meet working professionals.  Always obtain their permission to agree to be interviewed by you.  Be sure they understand your goal of wanting to gather information.  If they agree to answer questions for you, it may be helpful to send them your questions ahead of time.  Number two, you can ask your career center how they might assist your efforts of arranging informational interviews.  If your school has no career center, number three is to approach your professors.  This is one important reason why it is imperative you form professional relationships with your professors (see Post #15).  Last, you can attend career fairs and politely attempt to conduct an informational interview with the available representatives.  You don’t have to announce it, but you may casually be able to get some questions answered.

What Do You Really Want to Know About Professional Life

If you are fortunate to land an informational interview, put some thought into your questions.  Think about what it is you really want to know when it comes to the professional world.  For example, are you concerned with day-to-day duties?  Are you concerned with long term growth?  Perhaps your main motivation is geography or company reputation.  Whatever it is, create relevant, professionally-related questions.  Do not cross the line by asking anything personal.  Personal questions include, “What was your last raise?”, “Do you like your boss?”, “How much vacation do you have?”, etc.

Great Informational Interview Questions

The list below is a sample of some informational interview questions to help get your gears turning.  Feel free to use them or create others based on your own curiosities!

  • How did you end up at Company X?
  • What do your day-to-day duties involve?
  • Why do you like working there?
  • What do you love most about your job?  Why?
  • What do you like least about your job?  Why?
  • Are there any regrets?
  • Any idea what your next career step may look like?
  • Do you have an ultimate career goal in mind?
  • Do you keep in touch with professors?
  • What is one piece of useful advice I should remember?
  • What do you wish you would have known as an engineering student?

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