Lesson Wednesday

Informational Interviews


What is an informational interview?

An informational interview is a 20 - 30 minute meeting to help you learn about the real-life experience of someone working at a company, position, or industry that you are interested in. It’s not a job interview, but it can be a great way to build out your network in a relatively low-pressure environment. This is a safe environment to ask lots of questions!

  • Usually done one-on-one, with the interviewee doing most of the talking.
  • Allows you to build relationships in the industry.
  • Informational interviews are a great place to start if you’re curious about a specific part of the industry (ex: cybersecurity, technical project management, UX designer, etc.)

Who to interview? (and how to find them)

Who should you interview?

  • People with jobs you are interested in learning more about.
  • Epicodus alumni. They’ve been in your shoes!

Try reaching out to connections you have made already at events or other networking. You can also try a connection of a connection. If you don’t know someone, but a connection you already know does, reach out to them for an introduction. If you don’t know someone at a company, LinkedIn is a great place to start. You can search for companies you might be interested in and then use the “People” tab to find folks. Connect, and then send them a message!

Making the Initial Ask

Once you’ve found someone you’d like to connect with and interview, the next step is to reach out! Like we’ve talked about in other lessons about cold outreach and following up, keep your message short, professional, and action-oriented.

Example - Asking for an Informational Interview

Subject: Thank you for the great presentation at Girls Who Code. Could I ask for an informational interview?

Hi Jane Doe!

I’m Jiaqi, a junior developer-in-training at Epicodus, a code school in Portland and Seattle. I attended your talk at the Girls Who Code about JavaScript applications last week, and I was fascinated by your experience with the project you described. I would love to learn more about the work that you do and what your experience in the tech industry has been like.

Can we meet up for an informational interview in the next two weeks? [Online alternative: Can we schedule a time for a phone or video informational interview?]

Thank you for your time!

Jiaqi Li

linkedin.com/jiaqili | 206-999-9999 | [email protected] | https://github.com/Jiaqi1994

Preparing for an informational interview

First, do your homework by researching the person, company, or role, and develop a list of questions.

  • It’s okay if you don’t get to all of them (the conversation may flow naturally towards one subject or another), but this gives you a starting point.
  • Personalize at least 3 - 5 questions specific to the person / company.
  • Dress up for the occasion, like you would for a regular job interview. Be professional, polite, and mindful of their time. As with other types of networking, use this as an opportunity to build a relationship, rather than ask for a job. After the interview, make sure you connect on LinkedIn if you haven’t already, and always send a thank you note!

Example Questions

  • Can you tell me a bit about your career path?
  • How did you land in the role you are in today?
  • What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
  • What do you find to be the most challenging?
  • Is there something that surprised you about the role when you first started?
  • What skills do you think are most important for someone interested in a role like this?
  • What is the company culture like at this company?
  • What is it like to work for this company?
  • How do you see this job changing in the next 10 years?
  • If you could go back and do anything differently on this career path, what would it be?
  • Can you tell me about a recent project or work that you’ve done?
  • What attracted you to this career path?
  • What previous professional experience have been most valuable to you in this role?
  • What is one thing you wish someone would have told you before getting into this field?
  • Who else would you recommend I talk to in the field to learn more?

NOTE: this is not an exhaustive list! Developing your own questions based on your specific interests will help you to determine if a certain career path, company, or position type may be the right fit for you!

Lesson 22 of 22
Last updated April 6, 2022