Interviewing

How To Get an Informational Interview

March 16, 2021

Whether you are performing research to choose your career path, considering a career change or looking for a job, an informational interview is a powerful networking tool you can use to gather expert industry insight and build strong professional relationships. While getting busy professionals who are strangers to agree to discuss their career with you may seem challenging, knowing the right way to ask is crucial for securing a meeting.

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about getting an informational interview including how to ask for the interview with an email template, tips and examples.

What is an informational interview?

An informational interview is a meeting or discussion in which you gather information from the person you are interviewing about their career. You can use an informational interview to gather insight about the industry you are interested in, the corporate culture of a specific company or the career path of an individual who inspires you.

You can also use an informational interview as a networking opportunity to build a professional relationship with the person you are interviewing. While an informational interview gives you the opportunity to make a connection with a professional who is already working in the industry or company you are interested in, it also gives the professional you are interviewing the opportunity to gather insight into who you are and use this information to include you in a potential candidate pool for future positions.

Related: What To Expect in an Informational Interview

How to ask for an informational interview

Knowing the right steps to take when asking for an informational interview is crucial for getting the person you are requesting the interview with to agree to meet with you. Follow these steps to ask for an informational interview:

  1. Conduct research.
  2. Think about your goals for the interview.
  3. Send an email asking for the interview.
  4. Prepare interview questions.
  5. Follow up after the interview.

1. Conduct research

The first step in asking someone for an informational interview is to conduct research about the person, their career and the industry. This research will help you make sure you are reaching out to the right person for an interview. It will also help you learn what information is already available online about the individual you want to interview and their career or company. This information will help you later in the informational interview process when you are preparing interview questions.

You may want to consider researching people who are in a specific role or who work for a specific company. If possible, you should try to find someone working in both your dream role with your dream company. People love the feeling of helping someone else, especially when they feel they are able to do so because of their own success, so use a few things you find through your research to specify why you have chosen this person specifically when creating your informational interview email request.

2. Think about your goals for the interview

Next, you should think about your goals for the informational interview. Think about whether you want to learn more about this professional's specific skills or experiences, the corporate culture in the company they work for or insider information about the industry.

You will be more likely to receive a positive response to your interview request if you clearly state in your email the reason or reasons you want to talk. Having a clear idea of what your goals are will also help you prepare targeted questions for the interview.

3. Send an email asking for the interview

Next, you will need to send a cold email to the person you are interested in interviewing asking them to agree to the informational interview. Your email should be drafted in a way that is easy to understand and clearly state the reasons you have chosen to ask this person for an informational interview. Because this is a cold email likely being sent to someone you don't already know or have a relationship with, it is very important to remain professional and polite throughout the email.

Related: How To Create an Informational Interview Email

4. Prepare interview questions

Once the person you have requested an informational interview with has agreed to meet with you, you should begin preparing questions to ask them during the interview. It is important to make sure you show respect for their time and energy, so try to make sure the questions you ask don't have an answer that can easily be found through online research. It is also important to make sure your questions are created in a way that intentionally garners the information you are seeking from the interview.

Related: Informational Interview Questions

5. Follow up after the interview

Finally, immediately following the informational interview, you should send an email thanking the person for taking the time to discuss their career with you. Hopefully, this informational interview went well and you can add this person to your professional network. Then, every few months you should follow up with this person to help you maintain that professional relationship.

Informational interview email template

Use the following template to create your own email asking for an informational interview:

Subject: [Your name]—informational interview request

Dear [Name of recipient],

My name is [your name], and I am a [position or title] in [your school, company or location]. I'm reaching out because I find the work you perform incredibly interesting and would like to know more about [insert something specific you want to know]. [Write about how you learned about the company or recipient and why you chose this person specifically].

I'm sure you are incredibly busy, so even 20 minutes of your time would be greatly appreciated. I am available at the following times:

[Insert several dates and times you would be available for the professional to choose from]

Please let me know if you can meet at one of those times or if there's a better time for you.

I appreciate your time and thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Professional email tips for an informational interview request

Here are a few general tips to remember when sending an email to request an informational interview:

  • Recommend a phone interview. If you are willing to conduct your interview over the phone, say so in your email. This makes it easier for the person to respond positively to your request because they don't have to plan for a commute or an in-person meeting.

  • Avoid asking for a job. Even if you are currently looking for a job, you should not make this obvious as part of your informational interview request. Instead, identify your interest in the person's career or industry and state what you hope to learn more about from them.

  • Include a calendar invite. Adding a calendar invite to your informational interview email request can make it easy for the person to respond and helps you ensure the interview won't be forgotten or overlooked.

Informational interview request email examples

Here are a few examples of completed informational interview request emails using the above template:

  • Student informational interview email request example
  • Potential job seeker informational interview email request example

Student informational interview email request example

Here is an example of an informational interview request written by a student looking for information about the career path they are interested in:

Subject: Camille Anderson—informational interview request

Dear Stephanie Rodriguez,

My name is Camille Anderson, and I am a student at the University of Texas - Houston. I'm reaching out because I find the work you perform incredibly interesting and would like to know more about [insert something specific you want to know]. [Write about how you learned about the company or recipient and why you chose this person specifically].

I'm sure you are incredibly busy, so even 20 minutes of your time would be greatly appreciated. I am available at the following times:

January 15, 2020 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m
January 16, 2020 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.
January 17, 2020 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
January 18, 2020 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Please let me know if you can meet at one of those times or if there's a better time for you.

I appreciate your time and thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Camille Anderson

Potential career change informational interview email request example

Here is an example of an informational interview request written by an individual who is considering changing careers:

Subject: Johnathon Greenberg—informational interview request

Dear Mackenzie Lee,

My name is Johnathon Greenberg, and I am an accountant at Davis & Reynolds Associates. I'm reaching out because I was impressed when I learned about your successful transition from working in a law firm to leading the content management department for All In One Online Marketing Group. As a professional considering making a career change into marketing myself, I would love to learn more from you about the skills and experiences that were most impactful to your success.

I'm sure you are incredibly busy, so even 20 minutes of your time would be greatly appreciated. I am available at the following times:

February 1, 2020 at 2:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m.
February 2, 2020 at 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m
February 3, 2020 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Please let me know if you can meet at one of those times or if there's a better time for you.

I appreciate your time and thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Johnathon Greenberg

Related

View More 

40 Interview Questions for a Software Architect (With Example Answers)

Get ready for your next interview with 40 sample interview questions for a software architect and several example answers to help you make a great impression.

District Manager Interview Questions

Interviewing for the position of a district manager can be complex so we provide you with writing a resume and sample answers to interview questions.