Informational Interviewing for the Transition to a New Career Field

You’ve noticed a potential mentor but suspect they are too busy to be a mentor? Or maybe you just don’t know how to break the ice with them. Try informational interviewing. Its not just for students or those choosing a career for the first time! Informational interviewing can help you transition to a new career field, further your network, or find a mentor.

Approach people who you suspect are too busy to be mentors and ask them for an informational interview. This is only one meeting of 30 minutes or so in duration but it has great potential for you to get excellent advice and information about the transition you are considering. It is also a way you can receive a little mentoring from several different people. Of course, be on the lookout for ways you can contribute to your interviewee’s efforts too, now or at a time in the future.

Here are the steps to make an info interview happen. Call your contact. Let them know you want to learn more about their career field and you were hoping they could help. Ask if you can schedule a time to speak with them for 30 minutes because you would like to ask them how they got into the field and about their recommendations for people considering entering the profession.

Following are some questions typically asked in an informational interview. Remember you most likely will not be able to ask them all since you want to keep the interview to only 30 minutes unless they encourage you to continue.

  • How did you get to this point in your career?
  • How did you find this job?
  • What would you do differently if you were starting over in this field?
  • Are there any professional associations you can recommend?
  • What do you read to stay up-to-date in the field?
  • What is happening in this industry?
  • What recommendations do you have for a person interested in this field?
  • Do you know others I should speak to about this career field?

Be sure to take a pen and paper for quick notes and recommendations and ask for their business card before you leave. Don’t forget to write and send a thank you note the following day.

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