Informational interviews are a great way to learn more about your industry, company, or someone who has a career you admire. But it can be tricky to figure out how to ask for an informational interview. Who do you ask? How do you ask? What do you say? We’ve got your guide.
Whom to ask for an informational interview
Is there someone whose career or career path you’re interested in? That’s who you should talk to.
For example, when you start in a new role or at a new company it can be extremely helpful to have an informational interview with your boss. It can help you gain insight into the company culture and the path to advancement.
Even outside of your company, informational interviews can be excellent learning opportunities, especially if you are a student or intern. People love to be asked about themselves and the topics they know inside and out. Inviting professionals in your desired career field to chat is also a great way to build your industry network which can come in handy the next time you're on the job hunt.
Read more: How to Find a Mentor and How to Ask
How to ask for an informational interview
If you already know the person you’d like to meet with, you can shoot him or her a quick email or even stop by their office and ask in person.
Because you're already familiar with them, your email can be casual and friendly. Be clear about your intention for the conversation and provide specifics about what you'd like to discuss.
I was wondering if you had any time in the next few weeks to sit down and chat about InHerSight and your role at the company. I would love to learn more about what you do here and how you got there. I'm interested in making the move from big pharma to startups and want to know more about the space before I take the leap.
Please let me know if you have any availability for an informational interview.
It is also totally okay to ask someone you don’t know (yet!) for an informational interview. If you’re reaching out totally cold, try to find a connection in common who can make the introduction or, at the very least, find something you have in common with the recipient, like your sorority, alma mater, membership in a professional organization, etc.
If you don’t have a connection in common or have their direct email address, try reaching out on LinkedIn or, if it’s industry-appropriate, Twitter.
Make sure your message evokes a professional tone and clearly states that you are interested in an informational interview.
Check out this example:
My name is Jane Doe and I am a student at Drake University. Your colleague Joan gave me your email address.
I am just starting out in the accounting field and I would love to learn about the work you do at Deloitte. Do you have any time in the next few weeks to sit down with me for an informational interview? I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Informational interviews are a great way to get some face time with company and industry bigwigs while learning directly from excellent resources.
Now you have homework: reach out to five of your industry inspirations and ask them for informational interviews. You never know what you might learn!