Phutures: Informational Interviews

Presented by Phutures Director, Dr. Roshni Rao How to have an informational Interview Have you ever been curious about a particular Industry or career path? What about a type of role or job title? There are only so many hours in a day and so many career paths to explore! One way to discover if you resonate with a job or if a role doesn’t quite feel like you is to have informational interviews! Hi my name is Roshni and I am the Director of PHutures, a career and professional development office for Doctoral students & Postdocs at Johns Hopkins University and today, I want to highlight the importance of having an informational interview and how to set them up!

So what is an informational interview?

An Informational Interview is a great networking tool that allows us to have conversations with people from different professions! When approached with curiosity and designed with the right questions in mind, it enables us get insight into another person’s role, or industry or career path. Upon reflecting on the information gathered, this kind of conversation can help us get some clarity, validate or eliminate a career help us discover something brand new, learn more about personal values and expand our professional relationships! An informational interview can last about 20-30 minutes and is usually conducted via Phone, in-person or on video! You can reach out to people to talk to via LinkedIn, email or through your existing contacts! Before you set up the interview though, keep in mind that you are focusing on their career & life story! People are very willing and excited to share their stories, but expecting them to give you a job at the end of an informatorational  interview, can be misleading.

So let’s begin!

After you’ve identified the person you want to interview and have  set up a date and time, the first step is to:

  1. Prepare for your informational interview: Take some time to learn more about the person, company or role you are interested in. The more you know, the more you are able to identify any gaps in your knowledge or clarify some of your existing questions.
  2. Speaking of questions, make a list of insightful questions to ask!

Like: What do you love most about your job? Or what does a typical workday look like? Or what are some of their reasons for pursuing their chosen career path? Showing genuine interest in their work and their story leads to organic and engaging conversation. Asking them the why behind what they do might just help you understand your own reasons and personal values about the role or organization.

  1. If it is helpful, during the interview, you can take quick notes to help you remember the topics discussed. Remember to keep an eye on the clock, ensuring that you begin and end the conversation on time and as previously discussed!
  2. It is generally best not to assume that the person you are interviewing wants to see your Resume. If they would like to see it, they will ask for it!
  3. At the end of the interview, show your appreciation & thank them for their time and opportunity. You can even ask if they would recommend anyone else you could talk to and if it would be okay to stay in touch!
  4. Finally, follow up! Send them a Thank You note soon after your conversation! It’s always nice to share any life or career updates with them letting them know how their advice may have helped you in any way!

You just never know what might result in having informational interviews! For many, these conversations bring much-needed clarity & often unexpected opportunities. While it may be your turn now to ask questions and ask for help, soon you too will have an opportunity to give back and share your own career story! Thank You for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe and turn on notifications for more career tips!