The Power of Informational Interviews

I love time travel movies like the Back to the Future series. By now everyone knows if you travel back in time you need to be very careful not to change history. Talk to the wrong person or make the wrong move and your past which is really your future can be altered and you might disappear because you suddenly no longer exist. The lesson usually learned in these movies is the smallest of actions can ripple through time and drastically change your life. It is a silly premise until you really think about it and realize life truly is fragile and little things can make a big difference.

One of the not so secrets of Career Development is the future depends on what you do now. The people you know, the classes you choose, the part-time jobs you try, your major, the books you read, the clubs you join, the volunteering you do, everything you do has the potential to drastically change your future. One of the most powerful ways to influence your future career path is through Informational Interviews. You are already doing this. You meet new people almost every day and each interaction could be a tipping point for a new future. Everyday there are countless chances to make connections and those connections can determine your future just like in a time travel movie.

Experienced job seekers know the power of intentionally connecting with professionals in their fields of interest. You’ve heard the saying – “It’s not what you know it’s ___ you know” Networking works and one of the most powerful forms of networking is the Informational Interview. These interviews can be by email, over the phone or probably the easiest and best method, face to face. It may seem intimidating but remember most people enjoy taking a few moments out of their day to reflect on their professional life and to give advice to someone interested in their field. When you try an informational interview you can expect to get firsthand relevant information about the realities of working within a field, industry, or a specific position. You will get tips on how to better prepare for your career. You may discover information to help write your resume and prepare for your job interviews.

Here are a few steps on how to get started with your first Informational Interview.

  1. Do some initial research and get to know your field or the employer you are interested in.
  2. Find people to interview through your contacts including faculty, friends, family and former employers. Ask for help finding the right person to interview from professional associations or try to connect through LinkedIn.
  3. Prepare for your interview. You are asking the questions and you will want to write good open-ended questions to ask. You will also need to introduce yourself with a short overview of your interests and your purpose for asking for an informational interview.
  4. Call the person you hope to interview to schedule a 20-30 minute appointment for the interview.
  5. Conduct the interview. Build your genuine interest, listen carefully and take notes.
  6. Follow up with a nice thank you note to express your appreciation to your interviewee for their time and attention.

Your future shouldn’t be left to chance and since there are still no working time travel machines available you can’t got back and fix your present by changing your past. Make the right moves today by planning an informational interview and change your future. For a list of Informational Interview questions and some additional related information visit

What’s your favorite Time Travel Film?

1O0T1686 (1)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *