The pandemic has led many of us to consider making career transitions, either out of financial necessity or a desire to prioritize our work-life balance. You may wonder if it is the right time to transfer from one career path to another. If you are not sure how to make the leap to a new field – or if it is even a good idea in the first place – an informational interview (also called a “career research conversation”) can help.
During this conversation, you can learn the good, the bad, and the ugly about the occupation or position directly from someone who has experienced it firsthand. It can help you can clarify your professional goals and determine whether you have the qualifications, transferable skills, motivation, and personality needed to do the job well.
The most effective way to secure an investigative career conversation is to request a referral from your own networking contacts via LinkedIn, your professional organizations, or your alma mater.
Scheduling the Interview
Once you have identified your interviewee, contact them by phone or email to request a meeting. Here is a sample script:
“Hello, my name is Sally Professional and my colleague Joe Networker suggested I contact you. I am considering making a career change from human resources to project management, and I was hoping you could provide me with insights into your own position. Could I have 15-20 minutes of your time for a career conversation on a day that’s convenient for you?”
Don’t be discouraged if your potential interviewee does not have the time or inclination to speak with you. The more people you contact, the better chance of connecting with someone who can provide valuable information.
Preparing for the Interview
Use LinkedIn, Google News, and the interviewee’s company’s website to learn more about the person and their employer. It’s important that you don’t ask questions that you could have – and should have – found answers to on your own.
Develop a list of questions to ask, such as:
What advice would you have for someone starting out in/transitioning into this field?
What part of the job do you find most satisfying? Most challenging? Least enjoyable?
What training and education will I need to be successful?
After the Interview
Don’t forget to thank the interviewee. And offer to return the favor. Ask if there is any information that you could pass along to them in the future, such as a networking connection or a resource.
Need more advice about informational interviewing and professional networking? Contact Blooming Careers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-461-9516.