Informational Interview Guide

E&l Toolset Icon Informational Interview
Fact Sheet

Informational Interview Fact Sheet

What is an Informational Interview?

Using informational interviews to support learning is a structured Career Exploration activity in which students/learners formally interview an employer partner about his or her industry, educational and career path, and chosen profession. Students may also explore the range of career opportunities within the company or industry, opportunities for growth and the salary ranges for different occupations.

Designed to meet specific learning objectives, informational interviews are educationally rich, are tied to the curriculum, and help students/learners connect what they’re learning in school with the workplace. Unlike a guest speaker activity, where speakers usually address a group in the classroom, informational interviews are one-to-one interactions and generally take place at the company’s workplace. They may also be conducted via telephone or online – ideally utilizing Facetime or ZOOM.

Informational interviews are one activity in the continuum of authentic work-based experiences provided to all students/learners engaged in career-related programs or course of study in the Earn & Learn community.

Informational Interviews Are Designed To:

  • Provide exposure to potential careers and jobs.
  • Provide a realistic picture of the business, its role in the community and the career paths and occupations of its workforce.
  • Help students/learners make the connection between school and the workplace.
  • Inform career planning.

Informational Interviews Are Structured To:

  • Offer students/learners the chance to practice and demonstrate key professional skills, including communication, critical thinking, workplace appearance and timeliness.
  • Enable students/learners to begin identifying areas of career interest.
  • Build knowledge about the education and training needed for a particular job, career path and entry into the industry.

Informational Interviews Are Supported By:

  • Classroom preparation, including research on the industry and participating businesses.
  • Employer orientation and support.
  • Opportunities to reflect upon the experience verbally and in writing.

Informational Interviews Are Connected To:

  • Individual career development/training plans.
  • Future work-based learning activities.
  • The student/learner’s next steps.
WBL Connector Checklist

WBL Connectors Informational Interview Checklist

Quick tips for Work-Based Learning Connectors to ensure a successful informational interview.

Before The Informational Interview:

  • Identify all interested teachers/faculty and help them plan for the informational interviews.
  • Address any relevant school policies that may apply (in the way that field trips may be handled).
  • Make sure the employer partners are good matches for the careers students/learners are interested in.
  • Prepare teachers/faculty and encourage them to support the informational interviews and reflect them in their classroom activities. Share the Teacher/Faculty Tip Sheet.
  • Have teachers/faculty help create learning objectives and work with students/learners to prepare a list of questions to ask in the interview.
  • Create and provide appropriate support materials for distribution to employee volunteers who will participate in an interview. Share the Employer Tip Sheet.
  • Work with employee volunteers to help them prepare for the interview. Discuss best methods for being real with and engaging students.
  • Arrange for student/learner transportation and other logistics.
  • Find out if safety gear is required and, if so, arrange for it to be provided.
  • Have the student/learner call or email the staff member/company to confirm the details for the informational interview. Ideally, it should take place at the worksite.

During The Informational Interview:

  • Be the point person and troubleshooter on Career Day. Be prepared to address technology issues and have a back-up plan in case of speaker cancellations.
  • Distribute a schedule of events for the day to all parties.
  • Arrange for the employers to be met and escorted to the activity. (This is a great activity for one or two students/learners who have been trained as “school ambassadors.”)
  • Distribute and collect feedback surveys.

After The Informational Interview:

  • Document the informational interview in ELENA. Review feedback from interviewed employees, students/learners and teachers/faculty and summarize results. Make recommendations for improvements.
  • Help students/learners update their career development plan and think about any next steps they would like to take to further their career goals.
  • Work with teachers/faculty to connect the informational interview to the classroom.
  • Send thank-you notes to employer partners.
  • Publicize the informational interviews and the companies that participated by placing a story in the local newspaper or posting on the school website or social media.
  • Suggest the students/learners share their experiences on social media and tag the partner businesses.
  • Consider other potential public relations benefits and opportunities.

This includes Earn & Learn work-based learning connectors and others who facilitate, arrange and support work-based learning activities for students or other learners.

Sample Timeline
  • Beginning of the school year: Identify interested teachers/faculty and brainstorm companies that could participate.
  • Two months in advance: Invite business partners to participate. Find out the best days and time for the employer partners.
  • One month in advance: Confirm student/learner participation. Have students/learners research the industry or company.
  • One week in advance: Send employers logistics for the day and questions to expect. Have students/learners confirm the interview day and time.
  • After The Interview: Send thank-you notes to all hosts and ensure student/learner reflection activities take place.
Tips For Success
  • Conduct Effective Planning
  • Prepare for Success
  • Identify Learning Objectives
  • Create Authentic and Engaging Experiences
  • Connect to Careers
  • Support Student/Learner Growth
  • Ensure Activities are Safe and Legal
  • Provide Ongoing Support
  • Provide for Reflection, Presentation and Feedback
  • Connect to the Student/Learner Next Step
  • Assess and Document the Experience
Tools & Documents

Informational Interview Downloads

Student/Learner Preparation
  • Research participating companies and industries.
  • Discuss how the interviews can help them meet learning objectives.
Student/Learner Reflection
  • Spark student/learner reflection with an activity.
  • Ask, “What new things did you learn about this job and industry?”
  • See if they want to find out more or further explore careers in the industries represented.