An informational interview is like a job interview flipped on its head. You ask the questions instead of answering them. An informational interview is a chance to learn the ins and outs of a profession from an actual professional in that field. This is not a job interview. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a successful informational interview:
Job shadowing lets you learn about a career first-hand as you follow a professional throughout a typical day or week on the job. Take care to work around your mentor's schedule. A job shadow will be stressful for everyone if you show up during the busiest time for the employer. Once you have set up a job shadow, prepare for the experience by following these tips:
Finding someone to interview or shadow is not difficult. Ask your parents and your friends' parents if they know someone you can interview. Ask your professors for recommendations of professionals in the field. Visit the Nevada Career Studio, where our experts can help you make contact with alumni and employers who are willing to help in your career exploration.
Next, call or write a letter requesting an information interview or job shadowing. People who like their jobs tend to enjoy talking about them. You compliment the professional by expressing an interest in their career. In your phone call or letter, explain how you found the person you want to interview and request time for an appointment. Emphasize that you want to find out more about the career - you're not looking for a job. If you're lucky, the professional you contact may have other colleagues you can interview also.
Takes notes! Here are some questions you might ask:
Review your notes. What was your impression? Did you leave the interview feeling as if you can envision a future in this occupation or were you discouraged - you don't feel you learned enough about the occupation or the job description doesn't sound appealing any longer?
Take your thoughts and concerns to the career center staff and get feedback on the next step to take in your career exploration. You may want to do additional information interviews in this career path or you may want to reexamine your goals and find a different path for your interests.
No matter what you decide, send a thank-you note to anyone you interview or shadow. Whether you decide to forge ahead on that career path or find another one, this professional may be a good person to network with when you begin your job search.
Adapted from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, copyright holder.