Alumni & Friends - Ways to get involved and give back

Information Interviews

Information interviewing is a face to face or phone interview to gather information from a professional working in your area of interest. It is NOT a job interview or an interview to ask someone for a job but can help you:

  • do career research by getting a 'reality' check of the career you are researching
  • learn if the career suits you
  • learn trends or recent developments in the field or industry
  • receive tips and advice on the career you are researching
  • learn strategies to achieve your career goal
  • expand your network

Before setting up an Information Interview, research career(s) that interest you by browsing through websites such as Career Cruising and O*NET.

Setting up an Information Interview

Find people who are working in the field:

  • Ask friends, family, professors, classmates if they know anyone working in the career you are researching
  • Use professional associations and company directories in your career resource library
  • Visit the Academic Advising & Career Centre for tips and suggestions
  • Utilize Ten Thousand Coffees
    • This is a social media platform with which U of T has partnered, and everyone with a profile there is either seeking or offering advice.

Make Contact:

  • Send an email introduction, or call the person directly
  • Prepare an introduction script and practice it before you call
  • Tell the person where you got their name
  • Always thank the person at the end of the call for their time, for agreeing to meet, for a referral and/or for taking time to talk to you

Sample Script

Hi. My name is_______. I am a University of Toronto student and I am currently in the process of exploring a career in the field of_______________. I was given your name by one of my professors who suggested I contact you (or I found your name while I was researching in our Career Resource Library). I would like to talk to you about your career and industry in order to get a better understanding of it. I was wondering if you could spare 15-20 min. whenever it is convenient for you to talk to me about your career.

They may be willing to talk to you right away so have your questions ready. When you do meet, make sure you keep to the conditions stated - don’t ask for a job and don’t take more time then what was agreed upon. If they can’t help you, ask if they can suggest anyone else who could. Thank them and keep in touch. If their information led to a successful contact for you or if you have some information that would be of assistance to them – let them know. This is a two way relationship and positive networking works on the premise of helping others.

Conducting an Information Interview

During the interview:

  • Dress as though you were going to a job interview and be on time
  • Be thankful and professional with everyone you meet
  • Be prepared with specific questions that you would not be able to answer by doing research online
  • Bring your resume, but only give it if it is requested

Sample questions to ask:

  • Describe a typical day on the job. Is this typical day standard across the industry?
  • What are your major responsibilities?
  • How are you evaluated in your responsibilities?
  • What was your educational background and career path that led to this position?
  • What do you find the most/least rewarding about your work?
  • What skills/qualities do I need to be successful?
  • Are there any significant upcoming changes that you can foresee in this industry/field?
  • Are there professional associations to which you belong or professional journals you subscribe to?
  • Are there any courses/volunteer positions/internships/jobs you would recommend in preparation for this position?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
  • What is a typical career path for someone in this field?
  • What is the average starting salary for someone entering this career field?
  • Can you recommend anyone else that I might speak to for more information on this career?

After the interview:

Thank the person for his/her time. Send a thank you note by email within the next day or two.
Analyze the information you received:

  • Is it similar to what you have already learned?
  • Do you see broad trends or patterns emerging?
  • Is there any other information you might be missing?

Additional Interview Information Resources