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A Guide to Conducting Informational Interviews

by Addison Thomas, Partnerships Associate

Networking, networking, networking…it is not only the key to finding an internship or job, but it will bring you one step closer to finding your dream career. Over the course of my senior year of college, I conducted over 20 informational interviews with Providence College alumni, friends of friends, and individuals who were outside of my immediate network.

So what is an informational interview? An informational interview is a conversation with a professional in a certain field that interests you. The goal of this meeting is to learn more about potential jobs that align with your skills, passions, and interests. Informational interviews can be intimidating and at times it can be challenging to get a response from professionals who you are trying to network with.

I want to share some pieces of advice that will help you prepare for these conversations.

  1. Start early. It is never too early to start building your network. To all the college freshmen, start networking now. The first step is to create a LinkedIn profile. If you haven’t made your account yet, do it now! LinkedIn is a great tool for college students and recent grads to explore potential career paths and make meaningful connections with professionals in industries that interest you.

  2. Always attach a note to an invite to connect. Whether you are sending an invite to connect with a professional who you have 100 mutual connections with or someone who you have 0 mutual connections with, ALWAYS ADD A NOTE. For any non LinkedIn Premium members, you only have 300 characters for a personalized note. I promise those 300 characters can go a long way. Say something like this:“Hi Kelly! My name is Addison and I am a Senior at PC studying Marketing and Spanish. I was hoping we could connect and schedule a time for a quick phone call when I can learn more about your experience in the social media industry. I appreciate any advice or insight you may be able to offer. Thanks!"

  3. Do your research. Before hopping on that phone call, make sure you are familiar with the person's background and previous work experiences. Before each call, I would visit their LinkedIn profile and jot down where they went to school, their major, different positions they have held, and any other relevant information.

  4. Come prepared with questions. Always have at least 10 questions prepared to ask the individual. An informational interview should only last 20-30 minutes, but you should always come over prepared with plenty to discuss.

  5. Thank them for their time. You should always send a thank you note to anyone who takes time out of their day to talk to you. Now that you are connected on LinkedIn, you will be able to send a message that is longer than 300 characters. Thank them for their time and be sure to mention one takeaway you had from the conversation (this makes the note more personal).

  6. Be yourself. Finally, remember to relax and showcase your personality. These conversations aren’t interviews. They are meant for you to learn more about all the different career paths that exist in an industry that excites you. Try to network with people who hold different titles in a few different industries so that you can learn about careers that excite you and eliminate those that don’t.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone and engaging in educational conversations will get you one step closer to landing your dream job. Don’t forget to explore what jobs are out there that align with your passions, interests, and skills, by visiting our UpperCampus Explore app.

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn! I am always happy to have a conversation and help you prepare for the next chapter.


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