Information Interviews

Conducting an information interview is a great way to learn about an occupation or profession, and to expand your network. Spending 20 to 30 minutes with someone who works in your area of interest can be invaluable when you’re choosing a career path. You aren’t asking for a job, but you will be gaining terrific experience that will help you prepare for job interviews and plan your future.


  • Arranging an information interview

  • Preparing your questions

  • After the interview

Getting the most from your information interview

Information interviews take time to do well. You need to identify a contact, make your way to the interview, create intelligent questions, be available when the interviewee wants to see you, figure out how to dress appropriately… It’s well worth the effort, but we’ve outlined a few strategies to help make everything run smoothly.

Arranging an information interview

The first thing you should do is figure out what type of contact you’re looking to make. You may want to locate someone working in a certain field (e.g., theatre management) or at a specific location (e.g., Massey Hall). Once you have an idea of who you’re looking for, your career centre or alumni office are great places to begin to source individuals working in your area of interest. You can also talk to your parents, friends’ parents, professors… anyone you can think of who might have a good lead. And don’t hesitate to contact organizations yourself; the worst they can do is say no!

Following are some tips to increase your odds of booking an information interview once you have the appropriate contact information in hand:

  • You can request an interview via telephone, email or regular mail. While the telephone is faster, you may catch someone at a very busy time and they’ll automatically respond no. Email allows the recipient to reflect on your request and check their schedule before responding. Email (or snail mail) also enables you to attach your resumé and further emphasize that you’re serious about pursuing a particular career path.

  • When asking for an interview, keep the request brief and to the point. Make it clear that you aren’t requesting employment; your goal is to obtain information that will help you in career decision making.

  • Be flexible with your schedule. Your contact may want to meet you prior to their work day, at the end of the day or over lunch break. You should also be prepared in case they follow up with a phone call and want to conduct the information interview over the phone.

Preparing your questions

If you’ve already completed the self-assessment phase of career planning, you’ll have an idea of the information you need to make a decision. If you haven’t had the opportunity to conduct your self-assessment (or even if you have!), following are some generic questions that may be useful in your information interview:

  • Can you describe what an average day is like for an electrical engineer in this environment?

  • Who do your sales representatives interact with on a regular basis?

  • How much of the work completed by project managers is independent and how much is completed as part of a team?

  • What is the career path for a junior software engineer at your organization?

  • If a position as a process engineer is not available, what are the names of other positions that would help me to work up to a process engineer position?

  • What are your comments on the future of microbiology in Ontario (or Canada or Quebec)?

  • In which direction do you see this profession heading?

  • If you were in my position, how would you begin your career as a XX?

  • Can you suggest anyone else I could speak with?

  • May I send you my resumé? (if you haven’t already done so with the request for an interview)

After the interview

Once the interview is over, you should have a whole new set of options to explore and doors to go through. You can start by:

  • Reviewing your notes

  • Identifying what you learned that will help in career and employment planning

  • Following up on any new leads

  • Sending a thank-you note as you would for an employment interview. Be sure to mention something specific that you learned or gained from the interview. And consider asking the interviewee to keep you in mind if they learn of any suitable positions. Tip: The person you spoke with may become a part of your network. Consider sending him or her copies of interesting, relevant articles relating to the industry and keeping him or her up to date on any major academic or employment achievements in your life.