My Senior Year Search – Navigating the Job Market During a Pandemic: Informational Interviews

Hi There!

Welcome to my senior year search, a blog series that will take you through my career search as a UConn Senior! I will be sharing tips and tricks that are guiding me through the process, and also challenges I am facing along the way. This is such a difficult time for all of us, especially new graduates who are trying to break into the working world. 

I am a Cognitive Science major pursuing a role in Human Resources. The field has so many positions and at this stage in the fall, I don’t have a specific role in mind that I am looking for. So, before I start applying, I thought it would be best to do my research.

There are lots of different ways to research different job titles and roles, but this month I’d like to discuss the usefulness of an informational interview. 

What is an Informational Interview?

An informational interview consists of a 30-60 minute conversation with you and a professional. During the interview, you may ask them questions about their career pathway, their current job, their company/organization, or the industry they work in. With this information, you can learn more about an industry, job or organization you may be interested in. 

How Do You Schedule an Informational Interview?

The UConn Center for Career Development website has some great resources to assist you in finding the appropriate candidates for an interview and how to schedule one. I followed the steps on the Informational Interviewing & Job Shadowing document and watched the Career On Demand video about informational interviewing techniques

My Informational Interviewing Experience

Over the past few weeks, I scheduled and completed 4 informational interviews. I reached out to previous coworkers who were a part of my network, and I also utilized HuskyMentor Network to connect with UConn Alumni. 

I went into the informational interviews with an open mind and objective to make a new connection with this individual. I found that the most natural informational interviews started off with me asking the interviewee to describe themselves and their career journey. I also made sure to prepare some questions prior to the interview so I can learn more about each interviewee’s daily tasks and current projects. 

Informational Interview Best Practices

So without boring you with the details and transcript from each interview, I’ve compiled some of my best practices that you can use to conduct a successful informational interview. 

  1. Set a Goal or Learning Objective For Yourself

Before going into the interview, ask yourself about what you want to get out of this conversation. Write this down! Some goals may include:

  • I want to learn about XYZ position and what project work and tasks look like for this individual
  • I want to learn about an XYZ industry and how I can break into this field 
  • I want to learn about what it’s like to work at XYZ company and the culture
  • I want to make a genuine connection and build a relationship with this person to support me throughout my career journey                 

2. Send Over Your Resume Prior To Meeting

Sending a copy of your resume prior to the interview will help the individual to learn more about your experience and get a better understanding of you. This will save you time at the beginning of the interview. If you have time, ask the interviewee to provide suggestions on your resume!

3. Ask The Interviewee Their Preferred Method of Contact

Everyone has a preferred method of communication, and it is considerate and important to make sure you know the best way to reach out after the interview. Before your interview is over make sure to ask, “What would be the best way to reach out to you?”. The interviewee may invite you to connect with them on LinkedIn, provide you with an email, or even give you their phone number. This will give you their information to send a thank you note. 

4. Take Notes

You will discuss many different topics during your interview and you will want to remember the advice and information you receive. Taking notes also shows engagement to the interviewee

5. Be Yourself

Cliché time! Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. There is a greater chance to find opportunities for connection if you share your interests and background. 

Photo by Yan from Pexels

By Marina DeThomas
Marina DeThomas Marina DeThomas