Requesting an Informational Interview

closeup of two women's hands on a table with papers and a bookThere will be times as you begin your job search when there may not be a specific opening or role to apply for. When this happens, you can continue to make connections and learn about what’s out there in the workforce by requesting an informational interview with a person whose professional profile you admire or who works for a company you would love to work for as well. Informational interviews give you the opportunity to learn more about the field you wish to enter as well as to make new connections. Very often you will find it is not just what degree you have but also whom you know that helps you get your foot in the door. And requesting that informational interview starts with good writing skills!

In all likelihood, your request for an informational interview will come in the form of an email There are some things you should keep in mind when you get ready to write your email.

First, have your questions ready. This way, if the person to whom you are reaching out has availability right away, you’ll be prepared. Next, include an interesting subject line in your email, something that has more detail than “introduction” or “interview request.” If you found this person on LinkedIn, you can write something like “I enjoyed your post about the environment.” Or, if you found the person through a mutual connection, you can write “Jose Vasquez recommended I reach out to you.” These kinds of subject lines will draw attention and give the intended audience an understanding of why you are reaching out.

Now you are ready to write the body of your email. Here, you want to do a few things:

  • Introduce yourself: give a little background such as where you went to college, what you majored in, or any mutual connections you may have.
  • Explain how you discovered the recipient: perhaps a college professor gave you their name, or you read a post of theirs on social media, or you learned about them through your own exploration of their company website. Briefly explain the connection.
  • Acknowledge the contact’s accomplishments: make note of something you may have read about or by this person. Perhaps they published an article that you read or they received an honor or award and mentioned it on their LinkedIn page. It can be nice for the recipient to know that you know a little bit about them and the work they do.
  • State your purpose: It is ok here to ask for help, just remember to be considerate. Something like, “I was wondering if you might be able to meet for 15 – 30 minutes so that I could ask you a few questions about your experience in business technology” is both direct and polite. You could also say something like, “As I still have some questions about whether human resources would be the right area for me, I was wondering if you could answer some general questions about your experience.” Either way, if you follow all the previous steps, the recipient of your email will feel respected and appreciated and will likely be happy to spare 15 – 30 minutes to help you out.
  • Be flexible and respectful: defer to their schedule and availability, even if the time they offer is not ideal for you. Remember, you are asking for a favor from a likely very busy person.
Here is an example of a sample email requesting an informational interview:

Dear Dr. Rosenfeld,

I am an MBA student of Dr. Chong’s, and I plan to graduate this spring. Dr. Chong recommended that I begin to do some research into the job market now, before graduation, so that I can start to learn about what prospects are out there for me. She also mentioned that you two worked together and that it would be a good idea for me to reach out to you to ask you a few questions.

My focus is business administration with a social justice lens, and my research directed me to your article in Inside Higher Ed. I find your ideas on how embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion can make a company stronger and more successful inspiring. I was wondering if you would be able to spare 15-30 minutes so that I could ask you a few questions about how you got to your current role and how I might be able to target a company whose values reflect my own. I will include my LinkedIn profile in case you want to know more about what I’ve studied and presented on. I would also be happy to meet virtually if that is more convenient for you.

Thank you and kind regards,

Sapna Roy

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