Informational interviewing/networking is essentially talking with people about their careers. It is a valuable career exploration technique which allows you to learn about career fields first hand. It can also be a good job search strategy because it allows you to gain insights into the hidden job market (jobs not normally advertised). In an informational interview you will be asking most of the questions. The process is not difficult since most people enjoy talking about their careers. Basically, this is your opportunity to get the "inside story" - the pros/cons, salary/wages, hiring practices, required preparation, etc.
Why is informational interviewing/networking important?
Informational interview - Is that anything like a job interview?
Step 1: Locating Contacts
Informational interviewing involves meeting and talking with people in career fields of interest to you.
Worried that you don't know anyone working in that particular field? Career contacts can be found almost anywhere. People generally like to be asked for their advice and most people are flattered that you are interested in their careers as long as you are polite and respectful of their time. You may pursue contacts the CDC has available within the Alumni Directory and our database of Bucknell alumni and parents who are willing to be mentors. You can also follow up on suggestions from family, friends, or faculty members; connections can come from anywhere!
Step 2: Arranging an Interview
After you have identified the names of people you wish to interview, you will need to contact them to see if an appointment time can be scheduled. If you were talking with a possible contact you might simply ask that person if another meeting (informal) could be arranged. Otherwise, the preferred method of arranging an informational interview is to send an email and, if needed, follow up with a phone call.
In the email be sure to:
Make sure that your email has no typos and reflects proper English, no text abbreviations. It is best to express yourself in your own words and style. If you have questions, the CDC counselors will be happy to review a draft of the email with you.
Step 3: Conducting an Interview
Once you arrange an informational interview, the next step is to do your homework. Be sure that you thoroughly research both the organization and the career field before your interview. The resources of the CDC and Bertrand Library can help. Remember you will be doing the interviewing, so be sure to prepare questions which you want to ask. Check out the list of sample questions in this guide, however, you will want to relate them to your specific field and circumstance. Start by interviewing people with whom you feel more comfortable, like a friend or recent graduate. Keep the following in mind as elements of a successful interview:
Step 4: Follow-up to the Interview
After the interview, you will want to follow through immediately with a thank-you note. This is a courtesy which takes very little time but should not be overlooked! An email and/or a hand-written are acceptable.
Step 5: Evaluating an Interview
It is important that you take a few minutes after your interview to evaluate the information you have gathered. Keep track of the people you have contacted and what you may have learned from each. As a general rule, you will want to answer the following:
Step 6: Repeat the process and continue to build your career network.
Job Hunting Advice
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