On June 11th, 2020, IDS students gathered for a forum to learn more about informational interviews and how to best prepare for them.

Sister Wener, BYU-Idaho’s career preparation manager, shared some strategies for preparation including steps to follow for setting up interviews and an approach to planning the right questions to ask.

“The purpose of an informational interview is to talk to professionals in your industry, or in an industry you’d like to find out more about,” said Sister Wener, “Informational interviews done well are a great way to job search before you actually need a job.”

Sister Wener shared a list of ways to prepare for an Informational Interview:

1: Identify what kind of information you want to learn.
Knowing what you want to get out of an informational interview will build a solid foundation that will help you research and prepare pointed questions.

2: Research the company or industry.
“What that is gonna [hopefully] do for you is generate some questions. When you do this research and get to talk to somebody it’s going to demonstrate to them that you’re a person who prepares and a person who’s curious and has some passion,” said Sister Wener, “This contact could be somebody that can get you a job in the future, so [if they see] that you’re a responsible person, that’s gonna go a long way.”

3: Reach out. Find connections.
Find the right people to reach out to in your desired field or industry. There are tools you can use to help you find people to reach out to including LinkedIn and BYUIConnect.

4: Make the appointment 
“When you make an appointment you wanna keep some of these interviews short,” said Sister Wener, “People are busy, [but] everybody is willing to take about 15 minutes out of their day to help.”

5: Have an agenda. Ask appropriate questions.
“You want to know ahead of time what questions you want to ask, and that will come from your research and what you want to learn.”

6: Be prepared to answer questions about yourself and what you are looking for.
Have your elevator pitch down. What are you looking for, how/why you got where you are and where you want to go.

7: Have a polished resume that’s ready to share.
The person you end up interviewing might ask for your resume, so it’s best to be prepared for that.

8: Get referrals.
You can always ask if they know of more people that you can talk to. “That’s gonna help you grow your network and continue to practice informational interviews,” said Sister Wener.

There are many ways you can reach out and set up an informational interview. You can do a cold reach out through LinkedIn or BYU-I connect, or you can follow up after attending a career fair. “Reaching out again will keep you at the forefront of their mind,” said Sister Wener.

“Don’t be worried if you try one and it doesn’t go very well, that’s okay, just take a step back, think about what you could have done better,” said Sister Wener, “It takes practice, eventually you’ll get good at conducting them.”

There are many questions you can ask during your informational interview. To help you create an agenda and direction for your interview you can use the TIARA approach. Learn more about this approach here.