Informational Interview

An effective way to obtain career information is through the informational interview. This is not a job interview, but rather an interview with a person who is involved in some aspect of a career in which you have an interest.
Use your network, family, friends, professors, and our office to identify and connect with professionals. Request a 30 minute informational interview and be prepared with your questions and dress nice, forgo the jeans and t-shirt.

One effective way of obtaining career information is the informational interview. This is not a job interview, but rather an interview with a person who is involved in some aspect of a career in which you have an interest.

If you are unable to make an appointment to job shadow, you can also arrange for an informational interview via phone. Call the person and request an interview. Make sure this person understands that you are not interviewing for a job, but that you are looking for career information.

Here is a list of suggested questions you may want to ask during the informational interview:

  • What skills, education, and training are needed for this position?
  • What are the special requirements for this job?
  • How did you acquire the skills and training needed for this position?
  • What skills do you use the most?
  • Are there other ways of obtaining the same skills and training? How?
  • Where do you go to get this experience? How much time would it take to complete these requirements?
  • What are the approximate costs?
  • Describe a typical workday.
  • What aspects of this work appeal to you? Why?
  • What aspects do not appeal to you?
  • What is the job market in this area?
  • What would you suggest for summer employment?
  • Does your company offer internship opportunities?

Job Shadow

Job shadowing can be an excellent way to learn about a professional's day-to-day responsibilities and decide whether their career appeals to you. It can also provide valuable opportunities to network with professionals in your chosen field. You're likely to only job shadow for a day or just a few hours, so you must make the most of your time. Remember these tips to get the maximum benefit from job shadowing.

Make Sure You're Clear on the Details - Before you arrive for your job-shadowing stint, be clear on its details. Miscommunication before you start job shadowing can reflect badly on you. Remember to ask where you'll job shadow, what time you should arrive, and what you should wear. Required dress depends on the workplace; suits may be appropriate in one environment, while smart casual dress might be more appropriate for another. Research where you'll job shadow and how long it will take to get there. Allow extra time in case there's bad traffic or you get lost.

Do Your Research - You'll be much better prepared to job shadow if you're informed about the company you're visiting and the person you're shadowing. The organization's corporate website is a good place to start. Many sites can also give you insight into your job-shadowing host. Note any job-shadowing ideas you have, such as processes you'd like to see or departments you'd like to view. Your host is likely to appreciate your initiative. Jotting down pertinent questions you think of during your research can also create a good impression and help you learn more from the experience.

Reflect On Your Own Career Path - You shouldn't expect to ask all the job-shadowing questions. Your host is likely to be interested in what brought you to the company and where you hope to head in your career. Reflect on this before you arrive; it will ensure you give an articulate answer that creates a positive impression rather than stammering and stuttering through your response.

Focus on Your Interactions with People - The way you interact with the people you encounter will determine how much you get from your time job shadowing. Focus on making good impressions, shaking hands with every person you meet, maintaining eye contact, and addressing them with their formal titles unless you're told otherwise. Thank every person for their time and ask for their business cards. Sending them a personal thank you or email after you're done shadowing can make a strong final impression.

Stay Positive - You might love your time job shadowing or realize this career path isn't for you. Regardless of your experience, make sure you maintain a positive demeanor. Complaining about how you're spending your time or simply looking sour will reflect badly on you and could harm your chance of making contacts.

Take Notes - Hopefully you'll learn a lot during your time job shadowing, so it may be difficult to commit it all to memory. Taking notes while you're job shadowing is a good way to retain information about your experience. Remember to bring along a notepad and pen, laptop, or personal recorder to get down your observations and insights.

Forget About Your Smartphone - Many of us feel like our smartphones are an extension of ourselves, but job shadowing isn't the time to interact with yours. It's good practice to switch off your smartphone when you arrive to start job shadowing and only turn it back on once you're done. Refrain from making or receiving personal calls. If you absolutely can't afford to be off the grid, switch your phone to silent and resist the urge to use it. You'll be far too busy to text, tweet, or update your status.

With these tips in mind, you can make the most of your job-shadowing experience.

Career Services Center Can Help - If you need assistance in securing a job shadow, contact the Career Services Center at 920.923.7161 for assistance or schedule a meeting via your Handshake account.

Source –




Click Here to return to Career Services Home Page