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Informational interviews aren’t about getting a job. They’re opportunities to learn inside information from someone more experienced about a role, field, or company that you can’t find through online research. Sometimes, they result in getting a job, but approaching an informational interview with that single expectation will likely result in disappointment.

To arrange an informational interview, start with your own network and ask around for mutual connections. You can search your alumni network, or even contact strangers with commonalities on LinkedIn. Don’t waste their time by sending template copy-and-paste messages, not demonstrating interest in their work, and only asking because you want a referral to an open position at their company. If they offer, that’s great, but that’s a conversation only they can initiate. Be honest about your request and conduct thorough research so you can ask personalized questions in the request.

And if they agree to meet, these are some questions you can ask:

“Why did you choose this career path?”

“How did you land your role?”

“What do you wish you knew before entering your field?”

“What major projects are you working on?”

“What about your job would surprise people?”

“What do you like most/least about your role?

“How do I stand out from the competition to break into this industry?”

“Are there any questions I’m not asking that I should be?”

“Do you have any recommendations for other people who would be helpful for me to connect with?”

“Would it be okay if we remain in touch?”

It’s important to be considerate of their time. Informational interviews typically range from 20-60 minutes. Before the informational interview, ask how much time they have. After the informational interview, thank them!