There are some basic rules for conducting an effective informational interview:
- Don’t ask for a job, only information and advice. Asking for a job is tacky and unprofessional.
- Set a specific time and place to meet. Show up 5-10 minutes early. Be nice to everyone you meet.
- Research the profession, the organization and the person you will be interviewing.
- Be ready to conduct that interview “on-the-spot” in case someone agrees to talk with you immediately.
- Dress as you would if you were on a job interview.
- Listen. Observe. Show enthusiasm and appreciation. Take notes.
Now that you’ve plunged ahead and set up that information interview how are you going to structure the session, especially since it is limited to only 20 or 30 minutes? You essentially need to decide what you want to learn at the interview and select from the categories of questions that are most appropriate.
In addition to structuring the interview and preparing your questions, you will want to do some research on the firm you are visiting. It is always complementary to your host to be as knowledgeable as you can be about their organization.