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What Is An Informational Interview?

An informational interview is usually a “one-on-one” meeting to learn about someone’s experience working in a field or organization that interests you. It's not a job interview, so it's important to listen to get information, not a job offer. You can send someone an email asking for a 10 or 15-minute informational meeting. Make sure to respect someone’s time and offer to leave the meeting after 15 minutes.

Too many job seekers focus on just answering job postings. While it feels good to answer job ads, it is estimated that job postings represent only about 15% of all job openings. The other 85% of openings can be found through “hidden networks”. By doing as many informational interviews as you can, you will learn of job openings and movements within your field of interest. Make sure to ask people to keep their ears/eyes open for you in case they learn of something that might interest you. Be polite and not too aggressive. If you are likable/polite/appreciative, people will want to help you.

Some questions you might want to ask during an informational interview:

  1. How did you get your job?
  2. What advice do you have for me?
  3. Are there other people you think I should be talking to?
  4. What type of skills are important to be successful in the field of politics, public affairs, government relations et al?
  5. What kind of person do you enjoy working with?

*You can find further information about informational interviews online. YouTube has some good examples - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6Pa4ZB4mvQ

Margaret “Mag” Gottlieb is the Career Director at the Graduate School of Political Management at the George Washington University. Connect with Mag on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/margaret-gottlieb-1457753/ or via email at mag@gwu.edu.

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