Preparing for an Informational InterviewNetworking conversations are best held in person, but phone or Zoom calls can also yield great results. Whether in-person or virtual, keep your research notes handy for reference. For better sound quality, use a landline phone if possible, and consider standing during phone interviews as it can add energy to the conversation.
Review the basic preparations for interviews. The same rules apply to informational interviews, with one major exception: don't ask if they have any openings.
When the interview starts, thank them for their time and be prepared to explain why you're interested in exploring their industry and learning from their perspectives. Mention your referral if you received one, and be ready to share your background and elevator pitch focused on the type of work being discussed. For example:
"I became interested in the (industry) field last summer when I worked at (organization name) and had an opportunity to work with the (job type) Director there. Her job provided an opportunity to make a difference with the organization and it really fascinated me. She worked with all aspects of (responsibility) and (responsibility). She was sincerely interested in helping her team (goal). I liked the variety in her job and the fact that she was a very positive influence at (organization name)."
Remember that your focus is to ask questions, listen, and learn. Your contact is the expert, so conduct an informal but business-like interview and respect their time. You asked for their advice and ideas, so never argue with their opinions or perspectives. They are the experts in their world, and you are visiting. Use their feedback regarding industry or company needs and desired characteristics/skills to improve your resume.