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An informational interview is simply a formal or informal discussion with a professional who works in a role/organization/industry of interest to you. It's a great way to obtain information, establish connections and expand your network, and find potential opportunities- Great things can come from an informational interview! Some students have gained internships and employment opportunities by taking a risk and reaching out to a professional.
Who to Reach Out To
- Make a list of everyone you know (family, friends, friends' parents, neighbors, etc). You'd be surprised how connected you already might be!
- GVSU alumni, faculty and staff are great places to start.
- Search LinkedIn or Handshake to find specific people, or identify specific organizations of interest.
- Even though you might not know anyone who works directly in your industry of interest, inform people you know that you are looking to connect with an industry. They may be able to connect you to someone.
Initiating the Interview
- Initiating the conversation might be the most intimidating part, but professionals are happy (and flattered) to talk with a student interested in the work they do.
- You can reach out to someone formally through phone, email, LinkedIn or in person. Cold calling or reaching out to someone you don’t know is appropriate in these situations. Simply introduce yourself and explain why you would like to talk with them. Be sure to be polite, professional, and prompt in your response. Try to work within their schedule.
- If you don’t get a response from someone, don’t give up! You can appropriately follow-up with the person, or move on to identify other potential interviewees.
Conducting the Interview
- Be on time and ready for your conversation.
- Since this may be your first impression, dress business professionally (dress pants/skirt and a nice shirt).
- Not sure what to say? Check out the sample list of questions below. Once you ask a couple of questions the conversation may begin to flow naturally.
- Be mindful of the individual’s time and know you can always set up another conversation if you do not get all of your questions answered.
- No need to ask about salary. This information is typically kept private. The GVSU Career Center can assist you in finding salary ranges for your areas of interest.
- Send a thank you note following the conversation.