An informational interview is an informal conversation you can have with someone working in your desired career path, industry or company. They help you build connections and learn about opportunities in your area of interest. While you can request information interviews at any time, it is recommended to start this outreach shortly before you launch your job search or while you are upskilling in preparation for a career change.

Who should I have an informational interview with?

It’s best to request informational interviews with individuals who are in the jobs you aspire to work in, especially if their professional, educational and/or personal background is similar to yours. It is a great practice to follow up with someone shortly after you meet them to start a connection and request an interview.

How do I request an interview?


LinkedIn is the best place to request an informational interview since the platform allows you to search for individuals based on their background. Remember that the more shared connections and/or characteristics you have with the person, the more likely they are to respond to your request. That is why it’s crucial to add as many LinkedIn connections as possible.   

  1. Find someone to connect with by searching for profiles based on location, employer, schools attended and/or shared connections. 
  2. Recognize that someone earlier in their career and/or in the role you aspire to be in might be more open to connecting with you, since human resource professionals or CEOs are typically bombarded with multiple requests per day. However, individuals, even high level, who actively post on LinkedIn are also typically quite open to new connections.   
  3. Take a look at several LinkedIn profiles and identify the ones that are either most interesting to you and/or have the most similarities with your own background. 
  4. Personalize your message to highlight shared connections or commonalities in your background. Example: 
    • Hi, my name is [name] and I am an aspiring [new career role] looking to learn more about [company/desired roles/industry]. I am a friend of [shared connection] and would like to connect with you since we both [commonality, such as went to UCSD Extension or started off as bartenders, etc.]. I’m curious on how you were able to pivot into this new career path with your background in [include details about their background or anything else in their profile that stuck out to you]. Let me know if you would be open to chatting for 30 minutes sometime this week. I appreciate your time! 
  5. Follow up in a week if you don’t hear back. It’s typical for LinkedIn messages to get lost, and busy people need reminders often. 

Watch our video, ISA Job Search Workshop: Networking for Your First Job, to hear from a past participant speak about their experience connecting with professionals for informational interviews on LinkedIn.  

Personal Relationships

Think of relationships you have already made with friends, former colleagues, fellow students, etc., who might be helpful to conduct an informational interview with. You could even ask your existing network for references in the career field you are looking to get into. If you are out of ideas, consider reaching out to your UCSD instructors or your career navigator. When requesting an introduction, follow the same strategy with the LinkedIn message to identify shared connections or commonalities in your background. 

Online Communities  

Online communities are a great way to find new contacts and practice informational interviewing. People who join online communities (e.g., Meetup groups or Slack communities) are typically open to making new connections and are thus may be more responsive than on LinkedIn. If someone in a Slack community posts a message that is of interest, you can look up their profile on LinkedIn to see if they would be a good person to request an interview with. Use the personalized message template above to request a meeting over Slack or LinkedIn. To find online communities, see Stage 4 in the Job Readiness Roadmap

In-Person Networking Events 

In-person networking events are also a great way to expand your network and have short, introductory conversations with professionals that could lead to longer informational interviews later. If possible, research which companies or employees will be attending the event to connect with them prior to the event. Follow these tips to make a great first impression so that you can walk away from the event with a few connections to follow up with later.  

Preparing for the Interview

  • Send your interviewee the meeting details so they can add it to their calendar. Be sure to include an agenda for the meeting in the invitation so the interviewee can prepare in advance. 
  • Two days ahead of the meeting, confirm the date, time and meeting modality (phone call, Google Hangout or Zoom meeting, in-person, etc.) 
  • Dress to impress, research the company and the individual’s background, and prepare questions in advance 
  • Arrive early to respect your interviewee’s time 
  • Make your goals for the meeting known to the other person upfront, whether it’s career development or job search advice, sharing what it is like to work at their company, and/or general industry advice. Busy people typically want you to get right to the point so they know how best to help you.  
  • Practice actively listening so you can ask relevant follow-up questions. Nervous interviewers are typically too busy thinking about their next question instead of listening to their interviewee, so have a list of questions prepared for the meeting so you can be more present in the conversation.  
  • Impress them by showing that you did your research on their background by referencing their professional history. An example might be, “It looks like you worked a full-time job at X while simultaneously completing 2 certifications programs. How did you balance all those competing responsibilities?” 
  • Be open to sharing your own experiences so your interviewee can guide you appropriately 
  • End on time and review next steps. This could be recapping main takeaways from the conversation, asking them if they would be open to having a follow up conversation in a couple of months, letting them know you will keep an eye on their company’s job board and/or sharing any contacts in their network they think might be helpful to you. 

Sample Interview Questions

While this is a list of general questions to help structure your informational interview, the more tailored your questions are to the individual and/or the company you are interviewing, the more impressed your interviewee will be.  

  1. I saw that you started off as a [role] but are now a [current job]. Can you tell me about your career path and how that led you to your current role? 
  2. How would you describe your role within the company? 
  3. What does a typical workday look like for you? 
  4. How did you develop the skills needed for this job? 
  5. What do you enjoy most and least about your job? 
  6. What projects are you currently working on?  
  7. What are some of the current issues related to this field? 
  8. What trade journals, magazines or professional associations would be helpful to my professional development? 
  9. What is the profile of the person most recently hired at my level? How could I prepare for a similar career? 
  10. What advice would you give to someone trying to enter this field? What do you wish you had known when you started off in this field?  
  11. Is your company open to internships? 

Follow Up

  • Send a thank you email immediately after the interview and reference the most helpful advice they shared and what you’ll do with that advice 
  • Implement this advice into your job search and/or career development plan with the help of your career navigator 
  • Reach out to this contact if you apply for a role at their company and make sure to incorporate any advice they gave you in the application process 
  • Follow up after a few months to connect again and share any relevant career updates, such as if you got a job, if you are still looking, how they can support you, etc. 
  • If you established a good rapport and are interested in developing consistent, long-term communication, ask if they might be interested in setting up regular meetings with you and serving as your mentor

Additional Resource