What is an Informational Interview?
An informational interview is a conversation you have with someone who is working in a field that is of interest to you. During the conversation, you ask questions about their career path, educational background, job responsibilities and organization. It is a useful research and relationship building tool that you can use in the early phases of career exploration as well as after you have made a decision to pursue a particular career path. It is not a job, internship, volunteer or shadowing interview, the goal is get information, however it is important to make a good impression and be able to answer basic questions about yourself and interests, if asked.
What are the Benefits of Informational Interviewing?
- Gain first-hand, relevant information, about the realities of working within a particular field, position or organization
- Get tips and insider knowledge about how to prepare yourself for the field
- Learn what it’s like to work in particular types of organizations and assess personal fit
- Develop a professional relationship and possibly obtain referrals to other contacts ; which may directly or indirectly lead to a future opportunity
How do I find people?
There are a number of ways to find professionals. Start with the low hanging fruit:
Healthcare professionals you know directly (e.g., your doctor, your dentist, your relative, your neighbor, your friend’s parent)
Healthcare professions with whom you may have an indirect connections (e.g. your classmate’s brother, your cousin’s vet, your friend’s mother who works at a hospital as an administrative assistant and knows healthcare professionals, your high school teacher’s partner, your sorority sister’s uncle, your internship supervisor’s friend)
Brainstorm a list of possible direct or indirection connections. Put the word out among people you know that you are looking for someone who does X. Ask if they know anyone. Sometimes it’s easy to assume that because we don’t know anyone directly who works in a healthcare profession that others in our network may not know anyone. You have to ask the question. Also, take advantage of impromptu interactions. If you happen to run into a physical therapist at a grocery store, express your interest in the field. Ask if they would be open to an information interview at a later date.
After you have tapped into your direct and indirect connections. Cast your net wider:
- Search for alumni in the Linkedin Alumni Group. Current students are welcome to join.
- Use the LinkedIn Alumni Tool to find alumni - https://university.linkedin.com/content/dam/university/global/en_US/site/pdf/alumni-tool-final.pdf
- Search for healthcare professionals (non-alumni on Linkedin) using keywords such as job titles, names of organizations, etc.
- Find professional’s contact information on company websites for some smaller or medium sized organizations
- Reach out to guest speakers from classes or student groups
How do I request an informational interview?
Read the Career Center’s Networking and Informational Interviewing Handout for tips on how to request one by email, Linkedin and in-person. Here’s a sample phone script:
“Hello. My name is John Brown and I’m a junior premed student studying Anthropology at Washington University. Is it a good time to talk briefly? I read your bio on the clinic’s website. I was excited to learn about the healthcare initiative you are spearheading. I am very interested in becoming a nurse practitioner and would like to learn more about the field. Would it be possible to schedule a 30 minute with you at your convenience to ask a few questions and get advise on how to best prepare to enter the field?”