Landing an informational interview can help you build relationships all across the industry. An informational interview acts as an authentic way to learn more about an industry, make a connection, and build a relationship that can be mutually beneficial in the future. Follow this informational interview email sample to impress new contacts and excite them to help excel your career.
What’s an informational interview?
The term “informational interview” describes exactly what will go down during the conversation with your professional contact. During this discussion, you’re not asking for a job or help on a project, but for information about a specific position, company, or industry. Use this list of questions to ask in an informational interview to structure your meeting in a casual, but productive, fashion.
Informational interviews can be helpful at any stage of your career, but they are especially helpful for a young professional with no industry contacts who is attempting to land an entry level job.
So how do you land an informational interview? The first step is to find contacts who will be willing to help you. Professionals with whom you have a loose affiliation, or a weak tie, are more likely to agree to speak with you. For example, a professional who attended the same university as you and participated in the same club will probably be more willing to help you than someone you picked at random. If someone close to you knows a professional in your industry, ask them to connect you.
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You can also use the internet to find weak ties that exist between you and someone in your industry. For example, you can use LinkedIn to find contacts that attended your university and work both in your desired industry and geographical location.
When you meet with a professional contact it’s important that you lead the conversation with specific informational interview questions. You don’t want to waste this contact’s time, and you want to make sure to get all you can out of the time you have with them. Bob Martin, the assistant dean for internships and career placement in the Bellasario College of Communications at Penn State University, explains that you want to ask a contact for an hour of their time. The first half hour should focus on the professional’s career, not yours. After about a half hour, start to pivot the conversation towards yourself. Ask the professional to take a look at your resume and e-portfolio. Tell him or her about your job search strategies, and ask for advice on if you should be doing anything differently.
Use the informational interview email sample below to reach out to weak ties.
Informational interview email sample
Dear Mr./Ms. (Professional’s name),
Good morning. I am a senior (area of study) major at (university’s name). I was searching on LinkedIn when I came across your profile. I see that you work as a (position title) at (company name). I also saw that you attended (university’s name) and participated in (club name), just like me.
As I will be graduating this upcoming May, I’d love to buy you lunch or coffee sometime soon and hear about your professional path. I know you must be extremely busy, but I’d love if you can set aside any amount of time to speak with me over the next few weeks. Your career is inspiring to me, and I’d love to learn more about how you navigated the (area of focus) industry.
Notes about the informational interview email sample
An informational interview is not the time to ask a new professional contact for a job, so the mention of that should stay far away from the initial email.
Additionally, the informational interview email sample includes how the sender found the professional’s contact information as well as their connection to each other, which are important pieces of information to include. The connection will make the contact more inclined to want to provide you with advice and advance your career.
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