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Arranging the Informational Interview

A person with whom you have something in common will make it easier to set up an interview (ideally you will be referred by an existing contact). Having an informational interview will make you more memorable when the organization begins hiring, and prepare you for a real interview.

By contacting individuals that you already have relationships with, you can request to schedule an informational interview with them or get introduced to their contacts. Getting introduced via email or in person is ideal, but you can follow up with the contact and reference your friend’s name.

Email may be the most efficient way to initiate contact with a potential interviewee. The email should be written formally (similar to a cover letter for a traditional interview, but shorter). This is a great way for you to introduce yourself and explain your intentions for the interview.

Be sure to include:

  • An appropriate subject line (“Jefferson Student Informational Interview Request”)
  • A brief introduction of yourself and your background (1-2 sentences)
  • If appropriate, explain how they became a contact for you (alumnus, friend, family)
  • Your intentions for writing and why this organization interests you
  • A timeframe that you might meet

Sample emails:

Dear Sally:
My colleague Jack Smith suggested I reach out to you. I am a current student at Jefferson in the Radiologic Sciences program, and I am interested in learning about Hahnemann University Hospital. If you have any time in the next few weeks, I would greatly appreciate meeting with you for 30 minutes to learn more about your role in Cardiac Sonography.

Best,
Andrew

Dear Matt:
I am a current student at Jefferson in the FACT program, and I noticed from your LinkedIn profile that we have a fair amount in common. I also attended the University of Delaware for undergrad, and my current clinical experience is at Roxborough Memorial Hospital.

I was hoping to connect with you to learn about CHOP and your career in nursing. My goal is to work as a nurse in the Philadelphia area upon graduation, so I'd love to hear about your experiences and any advice you may have. If you have any time in the next few weeks, it would be great to speak over the phone or in person.

Thank you,
Allison

You may have to set up an informational interview with the person’s receptionist or assistant. Identify who you are and explain that you are simply researching careers in the particular field.

Sample phone scripts:

  • "Hello, my name is Laura Jenkins. I am conducting research on careers in physical therapy. Would you be available to meet for 20 minutes so that I can learn more about your profession and organization?"
  • “Hi, my name is Alan Miller and I’m a student at Thomas Jefferson University. Rebecca Phillips gave me your name and said you would be a good resource for more information. You are in a line of work that I’m interested in, and I was hoping that you could help me gain insights into the profession. I would love the opportunity to set up an informational interview to learn more about your profession and organization."

Often times it is difficult to contact an individual directly to set up an informational interview. Receptionists or assistants can be useful in arranging an appointment time or direct you to the proper person for your meeting.

The individual may not respond to the first email you send. Wait a week from the first time you contacted them. Send a second message or follow up with a second voicemail, making sure to reference or forward the initial message.

Sample email:

Hi Matt,

I’m following up on my email from last week regarding an informational interview. Please let me know if you are available to meet to discuss your career. Thank you so much!