Informational Interviews. Everything you need to know.

Blog Graphic for Informational Interview, two women talking

How is an informational interview different to a job interview? Or regular networking?


As we all know, a job interview is a formal meeting to determine an applicant’s suitability for a specific role. An informational interview, on the other hand….well, it’s almost the opposite!


Informational interviews sound formal, but they’re casual discussions arranged with a person currently working in an industry, field, or role that interests you. You’re in control and are asking questions to gain greater insight into the industry or understand how that specific role aligns with your skills and goals. If you’re considering further studies, an informational interview can help you understand more practically if they’re needed or what an alternative pathway may look like. And, if you’re considering if you’re ready to become a manager, an informational interview can give you direct insight into the ups AND downs of that extra responsibility. 


Because the informational interview is NOT a job interview, you’ll find that the person you’re meeting with will share the tough parts of the job and the shiny highlight reel. You can ask about salary and benefits without worrying that you will negatively influence an offer. You might pick up on insights or jargon to help strengthen a future application.  


Looking beyond the immediate advantages, this is also an opportunity to expand your professional network and make valuable industry contacts that can benefit you for years.  


What’s the point of an informational interview?


At the Elite Collective, we’re seeing a growing number of clients engaging in career transition support because, after a short period, they’ve found out that their dream job isn’t so dreamy after all. This is why we encourage individuals at all stages of their careers to make conducting informational interviews part of their career planning.


An informational interview aims to learn more about the realities of working in a certain occupation, organisation, or at a particular level. You’re looking to gather extra insights from someone who is already EXACTLY where you want to be. Once you’re armed with that information, you may make very different choices, find alternative pathways to your end goal, or even – discover roles you never knew existed.


Informational interviews can also help you refine your communication skills, become familiar with any specific jargon, and build confidence before you head into a more high-pressure job interview.

How can an informational interview benefit your career?

How to arrange an informational interview.

Informational interviews aren’t advertised opportunities and will VERY rarely ‘land in your lap.’ It would be best if you were willing to put yourself out there, do some research, and ask people to help you.


Here’s how to identify, approach, and get potential contacts to say yes to meeting with you:

1. Make sure you’re asking the right people.

We start with lists. Put together a list of companies you’d like to work for and a list of job titles or positions you’re interested in. You’re likely going to get value out of speaking to someone from EITHER list, but you’re going to get the most impact from speaking to someone who appears on the crossover of BOTH lists. Head to LinkedIn, and see what you can match up!

Now, you might end up with some pretty senior names on your lists, and you’ll need to refine further to maximise your chance of actually getting a yes. You’re looking for someone who is aspirational yet will still have the time and inclination to meet with you.

Once you have found your matches on LinkedIn, reach out via email. LinkedIn is a great tool; it also helps you identify shared connections you can leverage in your initial email!

If you’re not on LinkedIn yet or want to update your profile before reaching out, download our Free LinkedIn Optimisation guide. 

2. Know what you’re asking for.

When you’re reaching out to make a cold introduction, there are a few things you can do to increase your chance of getting a response: 

  • Ask for help. 
  • Are clear with what you’re looking for. 
  • Show them WHY you reached out to THEM specifically.
  • Are considerate of their time. 


Try something like this:


Hi *NAME*,


I’ve been following you for a while on LinkedIn after finding your profile due to our mutual connection **NAME** I’ve enjoyed the reflections you shared on *TOPIC*. After viewing your profile, I realised we both started recruitment in Canberra! I’m not currently job hunting, but I am considering which direction to take my skills and experience from here. 


I’d love to take you to a quick coffee to hear your perspective and thoughts on specialising in *AREA* as you have and what it’s like to work at your company. 


 I can only imagine how busy you must get, so even 15-20 minutes would be so appreciated. I’ll be in your area next week and would be happy to meet wherever is convenient. 


I hope you can help me out!


Thank you, 



3. (Polite) persistence pays off

If it’s been a week or so and you haven’t heard back – follow up. Politely, of course! Hit reply to that original email, ask if they’ve had time to consider this, and reinforce what it would mean to you if they DID have time to meet.


While it’s your responsibility to follow up on the email, remember that it’s NOT the person’s responsibility to meet with you. If your first request doesn’t pan out – don’t give up. Work through your list and send off another personalised request.

Sample questions to ask in your informational interview:

When asking questions during the interview, you want to focus on open-ended questions, learning about the person’s experience and perspective, and gathering whatever advice you can. 


Below are some examples to get you started: 

  • What does a typical day (or week) look like for you?
  • What do you enjoy most about your work?
  • What challenges you the most about your work?
  • How does your job affect your general lifestyle?
  • What are some common career paths to get to where you are, orcommon career paths for people who have reached where you are now?
  • What kinds of accomplishments tend to be valued and rewarded?
  • What related fields would you recommend I also look into?
  • If you do any hiring – what do you look for in an applicant? Do you have any specific advice on preparing a strong application for this role? 
  • How relevant is your undergraduate degree to your work? Did you take further specialised courses that helped you?
  • What advice would you give someone considering this role or industry?

Leverage those relationships.

When handled well, the relationships made during informational interviews can set you up with a wide-ranging network of contacts and advocates that will benefit you throughout your career. 


Send a short thank-you note within 48 hours of your meeting, acknowledging the person’s time and mentioning a specific insight you found helpful. You can keep the door open by asking them if they mind if you reach out with any additional questions in the future. Check out this article for more tips on personalising a fantastic thank-you note. 


Follow up with them from time to time – check in on a project they mentioned, congratulate them on work anniversaries, or comment on their LinkedIn posts. 

If you’re putting yourself out there and arranging these informational interviews, you will need a resume that backs it up! Reach out to discuss how we can help you tailor your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile so that you’re ready to tackle any new opportunities from these meetings. 


You can book a career clarity session with us if you’d like support preparing for an informational interview. If you’re preparing for a job interview, check out our article on the Top Five Most Common Interview Questions or read about How To Set Yourself up for Interview Success. 


Our team of professional resume writers are located across Australia, specifically in Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney. We have clients across all areas of Australia who rave about our professional resume writing services, job application support, and interview coaching. 


Will you be the next success story we celebrate? 


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