Image of a woman and a man talking at a table while drinking coffeeInformational interviews offer you the opportunity to learn more about a specific career, including day-to-day responsibilities and skills and training you'll need. Find out why an informational interview could help you and discover tips to help you ask the right questions to become informed.

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Informational Interviews: Why You Should Make Time for Them

Nov 6, 2018

Woman and man drinking coffee and talking at a caféAs you are starting to think about finding work, knowing the type of job you'd like to do is important to determine what skills you need to learn or strengthen and will help you target your job search.

How can you learn about the ins and outs of a job? Consider an informational interview! Unlike a traditional job interview, an informational interview is a meeting that you set up with someone in a specific job you're thinking about so you can learn more about that profession.

Finding a contact

Finding someone to talk to about their job and industry can be easy once you tap into your professional and personal networks. Reach out to family and friends, your Ticket to Work service provider, or your LinkedIn contacts to help you. Chances are someone either knows or works with someone who does a job similar to the one you're looking for.

Once you find that someone, reach out to them to request an interview. Let them know that you're interested in their field and that you'd appreciate their help in learning more. Be clear about what it is that you're trying to gain from your meeting.

Asking questions

Informational interviews are an important tool for learning about the daily responsibilities and tasks and may help you think about aspects of the job that aren't included in the typical job listing. You can also find out how that person started out in the field to help you better understand the different jobs you may want to explore before you reach your dream job.

Consider asking some of these questions:

  • How did you get started in your profession? Did you need any special training or education?
  • What's your favorite part and biggest challenges of your job?
  • What are some of your current projects?
  • What are some similar industry job titles I should look at, especially as I start out?
  • Is there anyone else you recommend I talk to for information on a particular job?

Creating opportunity

Even though an informational interview is your chance to learn more and consider a career option, remember that this type of meeting may also be a stepping stone to employment. The person you interview may become an important industry contact. Depending on the impression you leave with them during the meeting, they may think of you the next time they hear of a job opening.

This interview is not a chance to ask for a job. However, be prepared to discuss your interest in the field by researching the industry, including typical job titles and responsibilities; dress professionally, and be kind and courteous. This will show the person that you're professional and serious about your interest, which are both traits that potential employers look for in job candidates. Bring a copy of your resume with you, too, so you can discuss your experience and skills related to the field. In addition to showing the person what you can do, your resume may help them make suggestions on types of jobs that fit your experience or what skills you should develop to strengthen your resume.

And just like with a job interview, be sure to send the person a thank-you note after your meeting. Thank them for their time and insight into the industry, and include any actions you'll be taking based on their recommendations.

Additional resources

Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.