Thursday, January 29, 2009

How To: Do an Informational Interview

Informational interviews are helpful for a variety of reasons:

* Learning about careers away from the bench
* Networking with others in your field
* Developing partnerships for writing papers
* Learning about relevant patient groups associated with your research
* Finding business partners in the community

To start off, be professional! Write a brief letter (or email) to introduce yourself and outline your background. Explain why you would like to talk to the person. Say that you would appreciate 15 or 30 minutes of their time to ask them a few questions. Indicate when you will contact him/her to set up a mutually convenient meeting or phone conversation. Follow up with a phone call and refer to your letter to open the conversation.

Tips for an Effective Informational Interview
  • Self Assessment: think about your interests and what you would like to gain from the informational interview.
  • Research: research the organization and person you will be speaking with. If he/she has written any articles, peruse them to become familiar with their research.
  • Prepare a list of thoughtful questions to use as a guide. It is perfectly acceptable to bring notes.
  • Never ask for a job! Informational interviews are for information gathering, they are not job interviews.
  • Dress professionally: you want to make a positive impression.
  • Remember to send a thank you note!
Potential Outcomes
  • At least one new professional contact (plus they may direct you to a few other people to speak with)
  • Obtain first hand information about your career field and necessary skills
  • Better interviewing skills and confidence speaking with people, especially since informational interviews are generally low stress situations
For an informational interviewing tutorial, visit here. Do you have any additional tips you’d like to share?


  1. before your interview think about these question and prepare over them. Why did you make choices in your life...why did you choose the school you attended, why did you take your first job, why did you leave that job, why did you take your next job? What are your strengths? What are you good interview is like a sales're the product...why should they hire you? What makes you so good?
    these will help you at the time of the Interview.
    More Interview Tips

  2. Great suggestions, Avil. Definitely a good idea to give some thought to all of those issues, since they'll likely come up as questions at some stage of most interviews.

    The links you provided are very helpful, too! Thanks for the input.