Informational Interviews



An informational interview is an informal conversation you can have

with someone working in an area of interest to you. It is an effective research tool and is best done after preliminary online research.  It is not a job interview, and the objective is not to find job openings.

You may feel awkward reaching out to people you don’t know. However, most people actually enjoy taking a few moments out of their day to reflect on their professional life and give advice to someone with an interest in their field.


  • Get firsthand, relevant information about the realities of working within a particular field, industry or position. This kind of information is not always available online.
  • Find out about career paths you did not know existed.
  • Get tips and insider knowledge about how to prepare for and land your first career position.
  • Learn what it’s like to work at a specific organization.
  • Initiate a professional relationship and expand your network of contacts in a specific career field; meet people who may forward job leads to you in the future.

UC Berkeley


Step 1


  • Do some initial research on the career field or employer using internet and print resources.
  • Assess your own interests, abilities, values, and skills to identify the best fields to research.
  • Before starting to conduct informational interviews, ask yourself some basic questions:

• What do I like to do?

• What are my strengths and weaknesses?

• What are some careers that I want to explore?

Step 2


  • Pursue your own contacts. People you already know, even if they aren’t in fields of interest to you, can lead you to people who are. This includes family, friends, teaching assistants, professors and former employers.
  • Research local professional organizations. LinkedIn and Facebook are good online research sources. You may also call an organization and ask for the name of a person by job title.
Step 3


  • Develop a brief introduction of yourself and your hopes for the meeting.
  • Plan open-ended questions to ask.
Step 4


In contacting a professional to interview, be sure to respect his or her time. When you place the initial call, ask them if he or she has time to talk. Be sure to have a “sound bite” prepared to introduce yourself and explain why you are contacting them. If you were referred by someone, be sure to use that person’s name. It is recommended to start with a phone call.

  • Contact the person by email or phone (see sample telephone script below).Mention how you got his or her name.
  • Ask whether it’s a good time to talk for a few minutes.
  • Emphasize that you are looking for information, not a job.
  • Ask for a convenient time to have a 20-30 minute appointment.
  • Be ready to ask questions on the spot if the person says it is a good time for him/her and that s/he won’t be readily available otherwise.

» Arranging the Interview

Step 5


If possible, try to meet the person at his or her office so that you can get a tour and learn more about the work environment. Because you are spending valuable time and gathering information from the person, it is proper etiquette to treat the person to coffee or lunch. While ideally you will meet in person, in some situations you might conduct the interview on the phone. Keep these tips in mind during the interview:

  • Dress neatly and appropriately, as you would for a job interview.
  • Arrive on time or a few minutes early.
  • Bring your list of questions and take notes if you like.
  • When you meet the person you are interviewing, begin with a nice firm handshake and greet the person with a title – Dr., Ms., Miss, Mrs., or Mr.—and their last name to show respect.
  • Restate that your objective is to get information and advice, not a job.
  • Give a brief overview of yourself and your education and/or work background.
  • Be prepared to direct the interview, but also let the conversation flow naturally, and encourage the interviewee to do most of the talking.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Respect the person’s time. Limit the meeting to the agreed-upon time-frame.
  • Ask the person if you may contact them again in the future with other questions.
  • Ask for names of other people to meet so as to gain different perspectives.
  • Use a notebook to take notes. Also, you may want to bring along a good copy of your resume. Do not expect to provide your resume unless the person asks to see it.
Step 6


OW-UPImmediately following the interview, record the information you gathered. Be sure to send a thank you note to your contact within 24 hours of the interview. Keep the contacts you have met with posted on your progress. The most effective interviewers maintain a relationship with these contacts.

  • Keep records. Write down what you learned, what more you’d like to know, and what your next steps should be.
  • Send a thank-you note within 1-2 days to express your appreciation for the time and information given. Based on whether the informational interview was relatively informal or more businesslike, this may be a brief handwritten note, an email, or a business letter. See example below.
  • Keep in touch with the person, especially if you had a particularly nice interaction; let them know that you followed up on their advice and the outcome. This person could become an important part of your network.

» Thank You Notes & Follow-Up

COW CREEK OPPORTUNITIES for Informational Interviews

Careers in Healthcare – Cow Creek Health and Wellness Clinic
  • Patient Care Coordinator
  • Registered Nurse
  • Phlebotomy
  • Certified Medical Assistant
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Medical Doctor/Osteopathic Medicine
  • Radiology Technician
  • Mental/Behavioral Health, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Dietitian
  • Billing/Coding
Natural Resources
  • GIS
  • Wildlife Technician
  • Environmental Specialist
  • Archaeologist
  • Fisheries Biologist
Cow Creek Government Office
  • Human Resources
  • Human Services
  • Education
  • Forest Management
  • Accounting, and others.
Cow Creek Government Office
  • Customer Service (Server, Busser, Host/Hostess, Cocktail Server, Bartender, Cashier)
  • Culinary (Cook, Steward, Baker)
  • Management (Restaurant and culinary supervisor, Sous Chef, Assistant Restaurant Manager, Restaurant Manager, Banquet Manager, Restaurant Chef, Exec. Chef, Exec. Admin. Assist., Lead Steward, Banquet Captain)
  • Casino Floor – Slot Operations Manager
  • Gaming Industry
  • Marketing
Umpqua Indian Utility Cooperative
  • TBD
Umpqua Indian Development Corp.
  • TBD


Cow Creek Career Center Manager

(541) 677-5575

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