How to Ace Your Informational Interview

Tips for successful informational interviews, by Eva Mollett, Career Advisor, School of Information

Berkeley I School
Published in
3 min readAug 14, 2018


Informational interviews can seem daunting or awkward, in part because many of us have more experience being interviewed than being the interviewer, or perhaps don’t have ample experience with either one! However, informational interviews can be a crucial aspect of a job search, especially when making the decision to switch careers or industries.

I School events are a great opportunity to make connections!

Check out three top tips for setting up and conducting successful meetings:

1) Don’t be afraid to ask!

  • Be mindful of who you identify as a good potential contact, but make use of your professional and social networks to find the right person: if possible leverage family, friends, or past coworkers to introduce you to someone relevant. Just remember to show your gratitude once they make the introduction!
  • Once you’ve identified a great potential connection, craft a compelling message about why you’d like to meet. Keep it concise, but don’t be afraid to mention their accomplishments as a reason you’re interested in talking to them. People are often flattered to be asked to meet as an expert in their field.
  • It never hurts to offer to treat someone (to lunch, coffee, etc.) in exchange for letting you pick their brain and gather information.

2) Prepare, prepare, prepare.

  • Just like a traditional interview, research the company and your interviewee before you meet. Jot down notes to bring with you.
  • Prepare questions you’d like to ask during the interview, and also think about why you’re interested in the field/industry and prepare your own personal “brand statement” (2–3 minutes max). Don’t be surprised if the interviewee asks you a few questions about your professional interests/goals during the meeting, but aim to keep the focus on them and their trajectory!
  • Although this isn’t a job interview, consider bringing an updated copy of your resume, just in case! You never know where the conversation might lead and you want to be prepared. However, no need to pull out your resume unless it’s asked for — the main purpose of this meeting is gaining information.

No need to pull out your resume unless it’s asked for — the main purpose of this meeting is gaining information.

3) Be respectful and follow up.

  • Dress professionally and appropriately for your field, just as you would with a traditional interview.
  • The interview shouldn’t last more than about 30 minutes; be aware and respectful of your interviewee’s time.
  • Make sure to thank your interviewee at the end of the meeting, and also follow-up with a thank you note once you part ways.
  • Don’t be intimidated to ask for referrals/other people to contact or recommendations for next steps if the meeting has gone well.
  • Send relevant updates. Don’t bombard your interviewee with constant emails, but, this person invested time to meet with you, so sending relevant progress updates is a nice way to cement your relationship.



Berkeley I School

The UC Berkeley School of Information is a multi-disciplinary program devoted to enhancing the accessibility, usability, credibility & security of information.