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The Dreaded Informational Interview: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Prepare for it

By Sophia Trief

In every college student's career, there comes a time when you are faced with a dreaded task, the informational interview. I don't know if it's just me, but I had no idea what an informational interview was, or what the first step was to ensure I was prepared for what was to come. If you were like me, an informational interview is a time to speak with someone about their position and the company they work for, intending to learn what it's like to work in their position. Before I had my first meeting, I went to some of my mentors asking for their advice on how to prepare. After speaking with everyone I could, I decided to put together a step-by-step guide of some key things to do before the interview.

Here are my suggestions on what to do to prepare yourself for an informational interview.

1. Research, Research, Research

To get the most out of your conversation, it is important to research the person who is interviewing you. Not only will it demonstrate that you have prepared for the conversation, but it will also give you the knowledge to ask more in-depth questions about their career. When I am researching, I have found it beneficial to focus on the interviewer's current position, the company they are currently working at, and their past experiences.

2. The Questions

As you are conducting research, begin thinking about questions you would like to pose to the interviewer. The point of the interview is to learn as much about their career as possible, the more questions you have, the more information you can get. While going through their LinkedIn profile and resume, I channel my inner journalist and note down any questions that pop into my mind. When asking about their experience at their current company I always ask about; work-life balance, benefits, opportunities for professional growth, mentorship, collaboration in the workplace, company culture, and hybrid policy. In relation to their position at the company, I like to ask them to walk me through a typical day in their life at work. I find this covers a lot of other questions I may have, but it also allows them to highlight their favorite things about their job.

3. Take Notes for Later

Now that you have done all the prep, it is time for the actual interview. Something about me is that I always forget every single thing that was talked about during an interview. So, to combat that, I like to take notes to refresh my memory later. At the start of the interview, I let the interviewer know that I am taking notes for personal use, to assure they know I am actively listening and not doing something else. Taking notes has proved to be a great way for me to jog my memory and remember my favorite things about each company.

4. The Follow Up

After the interview, the most important thing I have learned is to always take the time to write a personal thank you note. Whether it is a message on LinkedIn, an email, or a handwritten note, it is always important to thank the interviewer for taking time out of their schedule to speak with you. It is always nice to add some key points from the conversation, another reason taking notes is helpful, to once again demonstrate your dedication to the conversation.

I hope these tips help you ace your next informational interview!


About the Author:

Originally from Manhattan Beach, California, Sophia is a senior studying Public Relations at Boston University's College of Communication. She is a supervisor for Boston University's student-run PR agency, PRLab, overseeing the Ben & Jerry's and Cold Current Kelp accounts, where she oversees the production of client deliverables. Throughout her time at BU, Sophia has held multiple internships in industries such as Food & Beverage, Cannabis, B2B, Luxury Home Goods, Fashion, and Nonprofit. After graduation, she hopes to use her skill set developed at BU to make a difference in the world, wherever that may be.

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