HOW TO ASK FOR INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW
If you’re also thinking about changing careers, talking to someone who does the job you’re interested in can give you insight into what you will — and will not — like about your desired job.
For someone who hasn’t interviewed for a job in a long time, an informational interview can also provide valuable practice before applying for jobs and going on interviews.
Informational interviews (also called information sessions, informational meetings, or research interviews) are interviews that are conducted to gather information to help prepare for a job interview and/or learn more about a specific job, industry, or company.
However, an informational interview is not a job interview, and should not be confused with one. With an informational interview, you’re not seeking a job — you are seeking information to help you get a job.
Anyone can conduct an informational interview, although they are most commonly used by new graduates and perhaps those who may feel they have been on a wrong career path.
Below is a sample scenario to demonstrate “how to ask” for an informational interview.
Asking For an Informational Interview
- Try to find someone you already know at the target company. Look at the company’s page on LinkedIn and see if you already know someone at the company who can help introduce you to the person you want to talk to/meet.
- If you don’t have a specific name, research the company’s website and/or LinkedIn company profile to see if you can find the name, title, and phone number of the person who hires for and/or oversees the job you want.
Make the Call:
Hi! My name is (your name) and I was given your name as the person who oversees the (name of) department or hires (job titles).
[If you were referred to them by someone, mention that. Or, if you have something else in common — like your alma mater or a professional association, use that as your lead-in.]
I’m looking to make connections in the ____ field. I know you’re not currently hiring, but I was hoping you might be able to provide me with some advice.
Would you mind if I asked you a couple of questions?
[If no, ask if you can schedule a time to talk to them later.]
[If yes, give a quick summary of your background and qualifications and then ask one or more specific questions]
- (If the job you want isn’t currently open): How do you typically fill positions within your department? Do you hire from within or do you advertise them? And, if so, where? Or do you work with a recruiter? (in-house or which firm or firms do you typically work with?)
- How do you like working for the company? [If you’ve researched the person on LinkedIn, you can ask more specific questions.]
- Do you know of another department within the company — or another company — that might be hiring (job titles)?
- How can I be helpful to you?
Thank you for your time.
How It Might Sound:
You: Hi! My name is Melanie McIntosh and we’re both members of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). I’ve seen you at a couple of meetings, but we’ve never formally met. I’m looking to make connections in the public relations field. I was hoping you’d have a couple of minutes to provide me with some advice. Would you mind if I asked you a couple of questions? I promise I’ll keep it short.
Contact: Sure, I’ll try to answer a question or two for you, if I can.
You: I’ve worked with a couple of agencies — I’m currently a PR Specialist with Be Bold PR and previously worked as an Account Executive for Stronger Brands for five years before that, specializing in pitching, account service, and media relations. I was wondering how your agency typically fills positions when they come open. Do you hire from within, do you advertise them, or do you work with recruiters?
Contact: We usually put up postings on the PRSA job board, LinkedIn, and Indeed. We also work with recruiters — usually PR Talent and Recruiters Inc.
You: Great. Can I ask how you got hired at Phantom Public Relations?
Contact: One of my former bosses came to work here and he hired me away. They actually created a job for me, and then I was promoted into my current role two years ago.
You: That’s great. I see from your LinkedIn profile that you’re well connected in the industry. Do you happen to know of any companies that might be hiring PR Specialists focusing on agriculture and farming clients? That’s my specialty.
Contact: I don’t know of anyone specifically who may be hiring, but I am friends with Simon Bass over at Waypoint Communications and I know they have a couple of ag and farming accounts. You’re welcome to drop my name if you want to ask him about openings.
You: Thank you. I really appreciate it. One last thing: Is there anything I can do for you? I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today.
Contact: No, I can’t think of anything. But do say hi if you are at next month’s PRSA meeting.
You: Will do. Thanks again.
About The Author
Mandy Fard is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW, CMRW) and Recruiter with decades of experience in assisting job seekers, working directly with employers in multiple industries, and writing proven-effective resumes.