Deciding On a New Career Path? Try Informational Interviews.

When you are considering changing careers or trying to decide on a career, many people forget how helpful informational interviews are. The purpose of an informational interview is to find out information about a career from someone who has knowledge about and experience in a particular field. This can help you decide if you want to pursue a career in this field or switch your attention to something else.

Here are a few pointers on what to consider when setting up an informational interview:

Narrow down what interests you

Figure out what career you are interested in learning more about. Try to match it to some skills you already have and decide if you might need more education.

Do some basic research

Research the career you are considering and the different titles people will have in that career. Figure out what education this career requires you to have and how much time you will spend gaining the skills needed. Find out what the entry-level positions are that lead to this career since you can’t start off in your dream career immediately. Research what the entry-level position pays and what the higher-level management is paid.

Talk to people and network

Find out if anyone you already know, such as family, friends or teachers know anyone in the field you are interested in. Call people in roles of interest that you find in the newspaper, online, business magazines or through a friend.

Setting up the interview

Before you call someone, write out what you will say and practice it a few times. Explain that you would like a half an hour to talk with them about their role in the organization and mention that you are interested in entering their field of work. Be courteous on the phone and leave your contact information if the person you called is busy. Remember that you have to work around their schedule and that they have valuable information you want.

Questions to ask

These are some questions you could ask during your informational interview. Add any questions that you feel are relevant.

  • What is a typical workday like?
  • How many hours do you usually work for a week?
  • What education did you take or suggest taking to get into a similar position?
  • What do you think the current job market is like right now and do you think there will be potential growth in this field?
  • What can I do now to get a job in this field?

Things to do:

  • Wear interview attire
  • Prepare your questions beforehand
  • Research the person you will be having the informational interview with and the organization they work for
  • Be on time for the interview
  • Relax and be yourself
  • Be confident and polite
  • Keep the interview to the scheduled amount of time
  • Send a thank-you note or email afterward since they took time out of their busy day
  • Follow up with them a few weeks later to add them into your networking circle

Things you should avoid:

  • Do not ask for a job
  • Do not use slang
  • Do not talk about yourself too much
  • Do not email or contact them frequently

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