Informational Interview Guide

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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 learners formally interview an employer partner about his or her industry, educational and career path, and chosen profession. Learners 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 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. In some cases, hybrid informational interviews may be conducted via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or some other technology; are conducted on-line; and learners participate via a remote classroom. There are also virtual simulations available where a recording of a live informational interview, conducted by a teacher or small group of learners, can be viewed on-line and serve as a foundation for an activity and/or discussion in the classroom.

Informational interviews are one activity in the continuum of authentic work-based experiences provided to all 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 learners make the connection between school and the workplace.
  • Inform career planning.

Informational Interviews Are Structured To:

  • Offer learners the chance to practice and demonstrate key professional skills, including communication, critical thinking, workplace appearance and timeliness.
  • Enable 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 learner’s next steps.
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 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 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 learners.
  • Arrange for learner transportation and other logistics.
  • Find out if safety gear is required and, if so, arrange for it to be provided.
  • Have the learner call or email the staff member/company to confirm the details for the informational interview. Ideally, it should take place at the worksite. If it’s a telephone or online hybrid activity, confirm the technical details, time and format.
  • If conducting the activity in a remote classroom, test and practice with the interface prior to the presentation. Ask for permission to record and share the interview with others in the future.
  • If learners are interviewing employer partners over the phone or using another technology, ensure appropriate permissions, guidance and protections are in place and share those policies with employer partners and learners.

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 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, learners and teachers/faculty and summarize results. Make recommendations for improvements.
  • Help 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 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 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 learner participation. Have learners research the industry or company.
  • One week in advance: Send employers logistics for the day and questions to expect. Have learners confirm the interview day and time.
  • After The Interview: Send thank-you notes to all hosts and ensure 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 Learner Growth
  • Ensure Activities are Safe and Legal
  • Provide Ongoing Support
  • Provide for Reflection, Presentation and Feedback
  • Connect to the Learner Next Step
  • Assess and Document the Experience
Online

Informational Interview Remote & Virtual Options

Introduction

Conducting informational interviews remotely requires a careful look and policies and procedures regarding learner contact via phone or the internet with industry partners outside the school setting.

Informational interviews are usually conducted individually at the workplace or the school, however they may take place over the phone or using technologies such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet when appropriate permissions, guidance and protections are in place.

Virtual and hybrid informational interviews approaches are more straight-forward in terms of conducting them in an on-line environment, yet they lack the power of direct learner and industry partner interaction. There are also a number of virtual simulations available where a recording of a live interview with an industry partner can be viewed on-line and serve as a foundation for an activity and/or discussion in the classroom

Remote & Virtual Interview Options

Remember, remote Remember, remote activities promote “live” learner contact with adult professionals and front-line workers via the use of technology. Appropriate permissions, protections and guidance should be developed to support these experiences.

A. Informational Interviews by Phone or Internet

A learner formally interviews an Industry Partner over the phone or internet about his or her industry, educational and career path, and chosen profession.

Steps To Success
  • Review the Informational Interview Guide. Review and distribute appropriate tip sheets and check lists.
  • WBL Connector and/or Teachers recruit a range of Industry Partner(s) and support learners in selecting those they would like to interview.
  • In some cases, learners may identify and reach out to an industry partner they would like to interview.
  • Consider having learners interview someone they know about their career path and industry (could be a parent guardian, friend, coach, pastor, shopkeeper, etc.).
  • WBL Connector and/or Teachers help learners select and test the platform as well as schedule the interview with the industry partner.
  • Learners then contact, asks questions and interacts with the interviewee.
  • Teacher support reflection activities and helps learners update their employability skills profile
Special Considerations
  • Ensure appropriate permissions, guidance and protections are in place and share those policies with employer partners and learners
  • Distribute and collect necessary permission forms
  • Get employer permission to record and reuse the session
  • Make sure learners are comfortable with the selected technology

B. Virtual Informational Interviews

Remember, virtual activities are generally simulations and provide learners with employer exposures through recordings, on-line research and related classroom activities.

Learners review a prerecorded interview with an industry professional in the remote classroom and engage in a guided discussion after the interview.  What did you learn?  What surprised you? What do you wish the person had been asked? How can you follow up to learn more? (See below for some sample links. Consider having learners conduct on-line research to locate prerecorded interview session with employers and use those on the classroom.

C. Hybrid Informational Interviews

A model where small groups interview an industry partner via Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or some other technology, record the session and then use it to form the foundation for a classroom activity and discussion.

Steps To Success
  • Review the Informational Interview Guide. Review and distribute appropriate tip sheets and check lists.
  • Teachers and learners work together to identify occupations they are interested in learning more about.
  • Teachers and Learners work with the WBL Connector to recruit Industry Partners in those industries that hold those jobs. or participation in an interview. Partners are asked if it’s okay for the interview to be recorded for future use the classroom.
  • WBL Connector and/or Teachers help select and test the appropriate platform and schedule the interviews.
  • Teachers work with learners to develop a set of questions to use with all interviewees.
  • Teachers recruit and select learners (no more than three per interview) to actually interview the industry partner. (teachers may monitor the session if appropriate).
  • Learners then provide a presentation to the class on the interview, showing the recording, and commenting on the experience.
  • Teachers then lead a classroom discussion or activity to help learners reflect on the experience.
Tips For Success
  • Select and personally practice using the selected technology.
  • Make sure all learners have access to appropriate technology.
  • Do a test run with your learners as well as the presenter(s).
    a. Have all learners who will participate in the activity brainstorm and submit question they would like the Interviewee to answer
    b. Select a small group of learners to pose the questions to the interviewee and have them pose those questions to the interviewee or conduct the interview yourself.  Record the activity.
  • Decide how you want to organize and moderate the session. Sometimes it takes one person to manage the session and another to monitor the technology and address questions.
  • Decide which learner reflection activities will take place and how you will support them.
  • Remember, it’s likely that parents or guardians will be around and would be a good resource for potential future speakers,
  • Make sure you get feedback on the activity from the speaker and the learners.
  • Record and post the presentation for others to view and use in their classrooms
Resources & Links
Tools & Docs

Informational Interview Downloads

Learner Preparation
  • Research participating companies and industries.
  • Discuss how the interviews can help them meet learning objectives.
Learner Reflection
  • Spark 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.