Information Interviews: What are they, and why should you have them?


A few years ago, I signed up for a networking website called Ten Thousand Coffees, which is basically a platform that connects career-seekers with industry professionals just to have an in-person or online conversation about what it’s like in the field.

Truthfully, after my initial sign-up, Ten Thousand Coffees dropped off my radar. Now that I’m graduating, I’m starting to realize how nifty it would be to actually talk to people who are working the jobs I hope to work in the future.

About a week ago, I learned that there is a name for these conversations—information interviews! An information interview is basically a conversation with an industry professional where you’re able to ask questions about the job they have in the interest of possibly working in that field in the future. Think of it like job shadowing, only through a brief conversation.

Initiating an information interview is entirely up to you. You can break this down into tasks and focus on one thing at a time. From what I’ve gathered in my readings, visiting the Career Centre website, and asking some friends, here are some tips on how to go about doing this.

First—likely the most difficult part in my opinion—you have to narrow down what industry you’re interested in. Marketing? Journalism? Research? Management? Is there a particular company or brand you might want to be involved with? Once you’ve narrowed this down, it’s time to network—use your contacts and your resources (Career Centre! Ten Thousand Coffees!) to find the right person to chat with. Cold calls aren’t off the table, either. Maybe even send an email to the HR of a company you like. Keep your phone calls or emails brief, professional, and to the point!

Once you’ve found your professional, set a time and place to meet. Are you able to meet this person at a nearby coffee shop? Can you stop by their workplace or office to chat?

Prepare questions! Remember that this is not a job interview, so you don’t have to be too formal, but if your professional sees potential in you, you might be kept on their radar for future hiring. Think of yourself as a potential employer; what would you want to see from a career-seeker asking you for advice? You can ask them for their story on how they got their job, their past job experience, what a typical day in their job is like, and for any general advice. The Career Centre has a more extensive list here

Hold the interview. Meet your contact, dress to impress, be 10 to 15 minutes early, and don’t stress too much. Your interview shouldn’t be too long—likely over the length of time it takes to have a small tea or coffee. You can ask your contact how much time they have and let them know this won’t take too long. Remember, this is solely to gather information about working in a job like theirs one day. Be sure to thank them and wish them a good day when you leave.

Email them a thank you. I think it’d be courteous and would keep you on their mind and on their contacts list in case of future job opportunities. Send your professional a quick thank you for their time.

Repeat! You’re looking for jobs and there is a community of people who have the jobs that you want, working them now. You might as well take advantage of the internet and contact as many professionals as you can to give your own career a boost. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a job. Maybe you’ll be interested in something you didn’t expect, or not interested in something you thought you liked.

I, for one, will definitely be more active on my Ten Thousand Coffees account over the next few months in my job hunt. Good luck to us all!