Informational Interview Tips

The mentor meeting typically takes the form of an informational interview. It is important to make a good impression and to do everything possible to ensure that the meeting goes as smoothly as possible.


For many students who go through the mentor program, their mentors may be future colleagues or potential employers. Whether this is the case or not, it is important to make a good impression. Here are some tips that will help you to make the most of your interview.

• Research the organization and occupation: The questions presented to the mentor should be well informed.  A lot of information about organizations and occupations is readily available at the Career Services and online. The questions asked should indicate that you have done some research in this area already.    

• What to wear: The most important thing is to be comfortable at the meeting.  However, you should consider the workplace you are entering when you choose an outfit.  If your informational interview includes a workplace tour, you should wear appropriate clothing and footwear.  If you are using the informational interview to network and would like to make a good impression, then business casual dress may be appropriate. Think about how those in the work place would dress and dress that way (or a little better).
 
• Your questions: Prepare your questions ahead of time, arrange them in the order that you hope to ask them, and bring them with you to the interview.  

• Getting to the interview: Plan to arrive at the interview ten minutes early.  If you are at all uncertain about the location, confirm with the mentor and/or ask for travel directions.  Bring the mentor’s phone number along with you in case something unexpected happens.  If possible, try to scout out the location ahead of time.
 
• What to bring: Aside from the travel directions, mentor’s phone number, and your list of questions, you should also bring a pen, paper, clipboard, and any helpful notes compiled from your research.  

• Introducing yourself:  Smile, be yourself, maintain good eye contact and posture, and know that it is normal to be nervous.  Mentors will understand that you may be nervous and they are supportive.  Remember that the mentors have volunteered to participate in this program; they want to talk to you.  If you shake hands before and/or after the interview, make sure it is a sturdy handshake.  In addition, don’t forget to thank the mentor for meeting with you.  

• During the interview: Stay focused on the mentor’s job and career field.  You can share something about yourself, but don’t talk about yourself too much.  Try not to take up time asking questions that can be more easily answered by another source.  Keep your remarks positive.  Never ask for a job - this is not the purpose of an informational interview and it may make the mentor reluctant to see other students.  However, you may want to ask if you can stay in contact or possibly even job-shadow.  You should also be sensitive to the mentor’s time constraints.  Unless something else has been agreed to in advance, the meeting is expected to be an hour or less.

• Thank you note: Immediately after the interview, consider sending a thank you note to the mentor and anyone else who helped you out.  Be sure to let them know what was most helpful to you.

 


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