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Why are information interviews an important part of the job search process?

Student Career Placement Consultant

For those of you not familiar with this concept, an information interview is a 20- to 30-minute discussion about a particular job or career path with an individual who already has a job that you think you would like. The point of the information interview is twofold: to learn more about what the job entails and to make contacts within the field. You can find specific suggestions for how to arrange an information interview, what questions to ask in that interview, and what to do after the interview in “Conduct information interviews” in the Resources section of this website, but here I want to focus on the benefits you derive from conducting information interviews.

  • One of the most important benefits is that a series of information interviews can help you determine if you really would like the career that you’re hoping to enter. By talking with people who are already working in that field, you can get first-hand information about the realities of the day-to-day tasks and assignments that you would be expected to undertake.
  • You can also learn about opportunities for advancement. You may not have realized that there is a specific path from entry-level to senior employee—or you may learn that it’s a job with limited potential for upward movement. You may discover that to move ahead, you have to move to another area or another organization.
  • In that interview, you can ask questions about different career options within the field, as well as about different employers or types of employers. Perhaps there are opportunities for this type of work in nonprofit or government organizations that you had not considered. Or maybe you’ll learn that many people work independently, starting their own consulting or freelance business after gaining a few years of experience.
  • While many people are going to be uncomfortable sharing their personal income information with you, it never hurts to ask about the salary range for entry-level employees. This will help you plan for your financial future by giving you the information you need to help you think about where you want to live, how you will repay those student loans, and how to answer potential interview questions about your salary expectations. 
  • In your information interviews, you’re going to learn about the skills and attributes that are in greatest demand. You can use this information to help you write examples from your own experience in the attributes section of your 1st Gig profile, increasing the chance that you will match with the type of career you’re seeking.
  • While the people you interview are unlikely to be hiring managers, they can give you advice about the application process within the organizations where they have worked. They can review a sample cover letter or resume, talk about different interview styles, and give you suggestions for how to enhance your application.
  • Finally, by doing information interviews you are building your network. Networks are crucial to career success, not just in getting that first job, but also in advancement throughout your career. 

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