A young man talking on the phone As you begin your job search and explore different career paths, consider setting up some informational interviews this semester. These interviews are often informal, and can help you learn about certain industries and the steps you need to take to get into a career. They also allow you to practice talking with professionals and build your network. Here are some tips for setting up an informational interview.

Finding people to interview

Research employers and companies in industries that you would like to learn more about. Use LinkedIn to see if a CU Boulder alum works there, and connect with them. You can also use the Forever Buffs network to find and connect with alumni.

In addition, take time to interview and talk with people you already know. Whether it’s family members, friends or your professors, you can gain valuable insight and information for different career paths.

Setting up the interview

Call or email the individual to set up a specific time for an informational interview. Introduce yourself and tell them you are researching their field or company. Ask for a 20–30-minute virtual meeting or phone call at their convenience, and assure them that you know they are busy and you will be brief. 

Be clear that this is an “informational interview” and you are not seeking employment. Have your list of questions prepared in case they have time right when you contact them.

Preparing for the interview

As you get ready for the informational interview, be prepared to direct the conversation. Ask the person about their path and the steps they took to get to where they are today.  Do they have tips or advice for someone in their final year of college?

To get started, here are some examples of questions to ask:

  • How did you get started in this field?
  • What is a typical workday like? A typical week?
  • If you were starting out again, what would you do differently?
  • What are the major rewards and challenges of working in this field?
  • Can you explain your company culture?
  • What trends, changes or issues do you see shaping the direction of this field in five to 10 years?
  • Is an advanced degree helpful for promotion?
  • What is the best advice you can give a person interested in this occupation?
  • What professional organizations do you suggest a student get involved in to gain experience or knowledge about your field?
  • What is the entry-level salary range for this industry?
  • Where else could I find people who do this type of work? Do you recommend I talk to anyone else?

At the end of the interview, consider asking if it would be okay for you to follow up with additional questions in the future. Finally, make sure to follow up with a thank you card or email.

Informational interviews are a great way to learn about different career paths, build your network and make progress in your job search. For more job searching tips, meet with a career development advisor. Career Services is open for virtual visits via Zoom, phone or LiveChat on the Career Services website Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Learn more about virtual appointments and drop-in hours.