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  • Writer's pictureHeidi Waite

Informational Interviews

[Topics were inspired by questions from mentees & discussions with the UCI's Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ecology Group]

I find informational interviews extremely helpful. I have been both an interviewer and an interviewee. In this blog post, I’ll walk you through what an informational interview is, why do it, and how to have a successful interview.

What is an informational interview?

Informational interviews are short, informal interviews with someone who has more experience in a field or works in an area of interest to you. As the interviewer, you’ll reach out and ask the person questions. Though you might feel awkward sending cold emails, most people are excited to talk to you. Most enjoy talking about their experiences and journey as well as mentoring and giving advice.

Why do an informational interview?

There are a lot of reasons to do an informational interview: learn about college and how to apply, learn about careers and/or jobs in your field of interest, learn about graduate school, or connect with your professors.

What’s the process like?

First, you’ll send out an email requesting to chat via phone call or video call (See last page of the first PDF for examples). Sometimes people prefer you email your questions and they respond over email. Then, you’ll compile the list of questions you want to ask them (see resources below for some questions to get you started). During the actual interview, things are more informal. You might start by introducing yourself, chatting a bit about your background, etc. You’ll then ask your questions. Sometimes you won’t get through them all and other questions might pop up along the way. That’s okay! Let the conversation flow. I also take notes during the interview. Once finished with the interview, make sure to thank them for their time and send a follow up email (examples in the first PDF below).

Resources for informational interviews

Full overview & email templates:

Download PDF • 106KB

Heidi’s informational interview questions:

Download PDF • 80KB

Charlie's guide to Informational Interviews:

Informational Interview
Download PDF • 2.26MB

Though intimidating at first, it truly is a great experience and you can learn so much from others. It gives you the opportunity to expand your network and find great mentorship!

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