Informational interviews

Talk with people in the working world to better understand an occupation or industry you're interested in.

Overview

Informational interviews are a common and effective networking strategy. By reaching out and talking to people who do work that you're curious about, you can:

  • Learn more about career options you’re interested in,
  • Get information specific to you,
  • Fast-track the answers to some of your career questions,
  • Open the door to opportunities like internships, volunteer roles, summer jobs, part-time work, contracts or paid work experience, and
  • Follow up on research from books, articles, courses, etc.

Finding people to interview

Use your connections at UBC

In addition to the many opportunities to connect with the employers that the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers offers, your department or Faculty may host events to connect you to employers or alumni. Your professors and peers are also great resources and can introduce you to people working in fields of interest to you. 

LinkedIn is a great resource to find people to interview. Use their UBC alumni tool to sort through over 200,000 profiles of people that share some common ground with you.

Get out into the world

Reach out on LinkedIn or Twitter, or go to lectures or events and participate in discussions. You may also want to identify professional associations that hold networking events.

Reach out to your past supervisors and collaborators

All the people in your life have their own existing networks. Make sure they know what you are looking for and ask them if they have any suggestions for who you could talk to to learn more about your career options.

How to ask for an interview

  • Introduce yourself in a few short sentences.
  • Explain how you found the person’s contact information and why specifically you want to meet with them
  • Be specific about what you’re looking for; use the words “informational interview” and say how long you want to meet for (e.g., 15-30 minutes).
  • If the person can’t meet with you, ask them to refer you to other people or places to go for more information.
  • Offer to provide a resume so the person will know more about you.
  • Keep it simple for them: offer to meet them by phone or video conference, or at or near their workplace during business hours.

Questions to consider asking

  • What does an average week look like in your role?
  • What skills can help you excel in this field?  
  • What would entry-level work in this field look like? How do you advance? What does the typical career path look like? 
  • What is the work culture like in your industry?
  • What kinds of people are you in contact with regularly?
  • Who else should I talk to?
  • What resources (like websites, industry associations or organizations) should I look into?
  • What is the most effective way to stay connected to current events and news particular to your industry?
  • Was graduate school necessary to prepare for or advance in this career? If so, which programs do you recommend?
  • What experiences should I gain now in order to set me up for a role in your field?

Tips for success

  • Assume that people in the working world are willing to talk to you. You may think people aren’t interested in talking with you, but people will be supportive if you show genuine interest in what they do.

  • Don’t confuse it with a job interview. Be clear with the interviewee that you’re only looking for information. Don’t be afraid to mention skills or experiences that led you to this field, but don’t fish for opportunities.

  • Leave with two ideas to move forward. For example, two people to talk to next, two organizations to volunteer with, or two websites you hadn’t seen before.

  • Be respectful of their time.

  • Send a thank you note following the informational interview.

Helpful resources

  • Ten Thousand Coffees
    Create a free profile on The UBC Hub to join the mentoring platform, and receive monthly mentor matches specific to your area of interest.
  • 50 Ways to Get a Job
    Explore the guide to finding work that is personalized to you and where you’re at in your job search.
  • Glassdoor
    Search jobs and get the inside scoop on companies through anonymous reviews left by employees. 
  • Networking
    Learn how to build beneficial professional relationships that will help you get ahead.
  • How to effectively use LinkedIn
    Learn how to connect with UBC alumni or industry professionals on the online platform.

Career events and workshops

Whether you're looking to improve your job applications or explore your career, UBC has events and workshops to support you.

Browse career events

If you have questions