University of Washington Alumni Association
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Networking is a great strategy for securing employment. Serious job-seekers take initiative to make themselves known by others who might have job leads, contacts, or advice. The Husky Career Network was developed to help UW students and alumni connect with each other.
For additional information about networking and the various strategies you can employ, we recommend you review the UW Career Center's networking guide (PDF).
Tips for Informational Interviews
Most times, when you contact a Husky Career Network volunteer, you will be requesting an informational interview. Informational interviews help you do several things:
- Gain information about a career, industry, company, or job of interest by asking questions of somebody currently working in the field.
- Obtain ideas about how your skills and experiences might be useful in the world of work.
- Develop relationships; people generally love to talk about themselves and give advice, so many individuals enjoy being asked to participate in informational interviews.
- Get referrals to others who might know of interesting career opportunities.
Remember, informational interviews are NOT job interviews - do not ask those you are meeting with for a job!
Before an informational interview:
- Clarify your goals, identify contacts, and prepare for your meeting.
- Research the field / job / employer so you seem prepared and knowledgeable.
- Prepare questions for the interview based on your knowledge of the field.
- Request a 15-30-minute in-person interview (by mail, email, or phone). See below for a sample request.
- Indicate flexibility regarding the date, time, and location of the meeting.
- Offer to meet your contact at or near his/her workplace.
- Make it clear that you are exploring career paths, NOT asking for a job.
Sample informational interview request:
Keep your request simple when contacting a Husky Career Network volunteer, but be sure to include a few key points. Tell the volunteer how you got their contact information, as well as a bit about yourself and your career interests. You should also make clear that you are seeking information about their field and career path. A sample message is below. Please do not copy and paste the exact text into a message – you should customize it to reflect your style and interests.
My name is XX, and I am a student in XX at the UW (or an alum). I found your name listed in the Husky Career Network directory. I am exploring a few different career paths and would like to learn more about the work you do in XXX at XXX. I think the field of XX might be a good fit for my strengths and interests in X, Y, & Z, but I would like to get your personal perspective on the field and ask for advice on how to prepare myself for the field. I know you are very busy, but I would appreciate the opportunity to visit with you for 15 minutes at a place convenient for you. Thanks for considering my request. Have a great day.
During an informational interview:
- Dress in a business-like manner.
- Be on time and be mindful of the time throughout the interview.
- Introduce yourself.
- Express appreciation for the interviewee’s time.
- State your purpose for conducting the interview.
- Build rapport by asking open-ended questions.
- Describe your background and strengths (have your resume or CV on hand).
- Ask about career preparation needed for field / job / employer.
- Ask for referrals to other potentially helpful contacts.
- Reiterate your appreciation for the interviewee’s time and insights.
- Take notes, if doing so doesn’t detract from rapport-building.
- Always offer to pay if meeting over meals or beverages.
Appropriate questions for informational interviews include:
- What attracted you to this field?
- What do you most like about this position or field?
- What do you least like about this position or field?
- Describe a typical day or week.
- How typical is your job compared to other jobs in the industry?
- What steps did you take to break into this field?
- What skills and attributes are most helpful in your job?
- What are typical career paths and salary levels in your field?
- To what professional associations do you belong?
- What are some related jobs or fields?
- How do you think my skill set would best fit in your field?
- What advice would you give somebody interested in pursuing your line of work?
- Who else might be able to share their experience of this field with me?
After an informational interview:
- Summarize your notes from the interview and decide your next steps.
- Keep track of all correspondence using a spreadsheet, database, etc.
- Write a thank-you note immediately.
- If you successfully use the suggestions your contact mentioned, follow up with his/her referrals; if you obtain a job, send another thank-you note.
- If you find a resource you think would be of interest to your contact, send it so you can continue to develop the relationship.
Questions? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.