Planning-The Informational Interview
Tips to Get the Most out of an Informational
Interview in your Mid-Life Career Change
If you are over 50 and you contemplate a
possible mid-life career change you’ll find the informational interview to be a great help in
your career research. Properly done it should open up avenues of required career research; for example, how to
gain appropriate work related experience, the pluses and minuses of the possible career, where the jobs are, and
future prospects for the career.
Proper planning for the
informational interview is the key to getting the most out of the contacts. There is however, one thing you
never do in an informational interview. You do not ask for a job, the reason for the informational interview is
to acquire information.
Finding Appropriate Career Contacts to Interview
To find appropriate career contacts, check
with your alumni association, local and national career associations, search Linkedin for contacts, all to
find 10-15 or more individuals who are currently working in the desired career. Or who may have
recently retired after working in the proposed career.
If they live in your area, you’ll be looking
for a short (15 minutes or so) face to face
interview. Otherwise a phone interview should be sufficient. Again,
to emphasize, you are looking for career information, you should not bring up
anything about looking for a job.
If you handle yourself properly, the person
you interview may volunteer information about available jobs-but that is not the primary purpose of the
Suggested Informational Interview
Here are some suggested interview
questions, and depending on the proposed career and in the course of your interviews, you should be
able to add to the list:
- What are the typical
challenges in the job?
- What do you like the most about the
job, the least? Why?
- Are there any educational
requirements for the job?
- Any surprises in the job when you
started, how about now?
- Any idea about salary
ranges to start? 3-5 years experience?
- How has the career
changed over the last few years?
- What do you see changing in the career
over the next few years?
- Is the career integrated into a career
ladder? What is the next job up the ladder? What are the prospects of moving
- What are the key
qualifications for the career? What specifically are employer’s looking
10. (Briefly review your education and
experience.) What do you think I need relating to added education and experience to qualify for a position in
the field? (Try to get specific answers.)
11. Who else can I talk to
regarding this career and this field? May I use you name in contacting them?
informational interview ideas:
Write out your proposed questions. Be sure
to follow-up, as appropriate, on the answers. Ask "why," frequently. As you progress through you list of
interviews you can edit the list of questions and add those that will help you gain additional
Take notes during the interview. If you
promise some additional information or you agree to added follow-up be sure to do as promised. Promptly send an
appropriate thank you letter.
As you go through the interview, ask how
your experience and education would qualify you for a suggested position?
If the interview is in person have a copy of
your resume with you. If asked you’ll have a copy to provide your contact. Leave or send some personal business
cards to your contact to ensure they can pass them along if they uncover some job leads.
Finally, promise to keep your contact
informed as you progress in you hunt for the right career and the right job.
You now have a good start on your mid-life
career planning for a career change after 50. It should help you in deciding if
the career is for you and lead you into additional career planning and research so you qualify for a possible
job in the desired career.