An informational interview is a great way to learn about a health profession. This is an interview you initiate with a professional to gather information about their career path, day-to-day experiences at work, current events and concerns in their field — anything you want to ask about.
Interviewing a health care professional will enable you to:
- Learn what a typical work day is like (What is the best part of the day, the worst part? What is surprising, tedious, difficult, energizing, or draining in a typical day at work in this profession?)
- Clarify your interest in this profession (Can you imagine yourself doing what this person does every day?)
- Learn about selecting a health professional program for yourself (What should you look for in a health professional program? What questions should you ask the schools you apply to?)
- Build confidence for the health professional program interviews you will one day get to experience
- Expand your professional network (ask this person is they have a colleague they think may also be willing to talk with you)
- Identify someone to interview in your field of interest.
- Start with people you know:
- Ask friends, relatives, and alumni (Badger Bridge and LinkedIn) who are or who know someone who is a health professional for contact information. (Keep in mind that family members can be great people to talk with, learn from, and by whom to connect with health professionals outside your family. When you apply to health professional programs, you are not able to report interviewing or shadowing family members in your application.)
- Ask health care providers you or someone you know has seen as a patient (Who is your primary care provider? Have you or someone you know visited a specialist to receive health care? Are you comfortable reaching out to these people?).
- Ask health professionals where you work or volunteer. (Make every effort to get to know the health care professionals where you work/volunteer. They can be great people to talk with, shadow, learn from, and they can be great connections to other health professionals.)
- Search online directories and call or write to professionals working in areas of interest to you.
- Start with people you know:
- Set up an appointment by email or phone. Share your interest in the field in which the person you are contacting works and ask if they would be willing to meet for a short (20-30 minute) informational interview. Let this person know who referred you (if applicable). If you would like ideas on what to say, please click here for guidance.
- Prepare for the interview by learning about the person you will interview (if possible) and preparing questions (Sample Questions for Info Interviews).
- Arrive a few minutes early, be dressed in business casual attire, and have what you need to take notes.
- Initiate and keep the conversation going. Ask questions you came up with ahead of time, allow the conversation to go in other directions, and be ready for the interviewee to ask you questions, too.
- Stick to your 20-30 minute time frame.
- Ask for recommendations of other professionals you might contact to interview. Be sure to find out if you can use this person’s name when you approach their recommendations for additional interviews.
- If the conversation has gone well, ask this person if they might let you to shadow them (see here for information on shadowing).
- Ask if you can contact this person again if you have questions in the future.
Be sure to send a thank-you email immediately (within a day) and a thank-you note within a week!