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Informational Interviewing

Networking is the key to getting a job, and informational interviewing is the key to networking.  It’s a great way to get information and to make connections. 

What’s an informational interview?

An informational interview is a conversation with a professional to get information about a job, career field, industry or company. It’s not a job interview but instead gives you the opportunity to network, get information on the job market and learn about potential careers.

How to find people to interview?

It’s easier than you think. Every professional has a story to tell about how they got started. Most people like to tell their story and will be flattered that you want to know about them. Remember, someone probably helped them along the way when they were starting out. They will want to help you, as long as you make a good impression on them.

  • Start with people you already know such as, professors, UB staff members, friends and family.
  • Ask them if they know people in your field of interest that you could meet.
  • Use LinkedIn to find UB alumni and professionals by doing an “Alumni Search."   

Want to ask the right questions?

Here's a few tips to get you started...
  • Review potential questions for each topic such as personal career story, a day in the life and so on.
  • Select the questions you are most curious about.
  • Follow the topic order below when asking questions.
  • Thank the professional for their time.

Personal Career Story

  • What is your educational background? How did you decide to go into this field?
  • How did you get started in this field?
  • Does the career path require an advanced degree and if so, is a master’s or PhD a better choice?
  • What do you wish you would have known prior to entering this field?
  • What is a typical career path for individuals in your position?

A Day In The Life

  • What are your major duties and responsibilities?
  • What do you do during a typical work day/week?
  • What do you find most rewarding about your job?
  • What were the positions that you had that led to this one?
  • What do you like most and least about your job?

Meet The Employer

  • What is the size of your company/organization?
  • Are you a global company/organization?
  • Where do you have offices?
  • What are the challenges facing this industry today?
  • What sets your company/organization apart from similar ones in this industry?

Workplace Culture

  • What are your biggest challenges or problems that you must deal with?
  • Do you work primarily alone or in collaboration with others? With whom?
  • Who evaluates your performance? How is this done?
  • What kind of on-the-job training is provided?
  • What is the on-boarding process like for a new employee?

Work Life Balance

  • Is there travel involved with your job?
  • How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, work hours, vacation, etc.?
  • What hours do individuals in this job usually work? Is there much flexibility in those?
  • How would you describe your work environment?
  • What obligation does your work place upon you, outside of the ordinary work week?

Tips and Advice

  • What kinds of skills should a job seeker highlight in resumes and interviews?
  • What advice do you have for me as I break into this field?
  • How do you see technology changing/influencing this field?
  • What specific aspects of my background should I highlight or sell the most when applying for positions?
  • Do I have to develop some skills or gain some experiences to make myself more competitive?
  • What is a typical entry-level salary in this field? 

What's Next?

  • Do you know other people in the field that I can talk to?
  • Can I use your name when I contact them?
  • If I have any questions can I stay in contact with you?
  • Are there any professional groups in this field you recommend I join?
  • Can I send you an invitation to "connect" on LinkedIn?