Informational interviews are simply conversations you arrange with someone who works in a profession that you want to learn more about. These conversations will give you great insight into careers that interest you. You can ask the professionals you meet with about the particular path they took to their career, what advice they would give someone in your position, their day-to-day experiences at work, what they love and what they don’t love about their job, current events and concerns in their field — and anything else you want to ask about.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when it is not possible for students to volunteer and shadow in healthcare settings, you can still reach out to healthcare providers to see if they have time to talk with you by phone or in a video chat about their careers. When you ask to meet, always show sensitivity to the fact that they may have added responsibilities at work due to the pandemic. Some will and may not be able to meet. But others will have and want to give time to you. You can always reach out and see if providers have time for, and interest in, a meeting — and they can offer the time they have and want to give!
- Setting Up The Interview
- During-The-Interview Logistics
- Informational Interview Questions
- What To Do After the Interview
- Identify a healthcare provider to whom you want to reach out.
- Start with people you know:
- Do you have friends or relatives or know alumni (Badger Bridge and LinkedIn) who work in a health profession? Regarding family members, they can be great people to talk with and learn from. You may also shadow them. However, when you apply to health professional programs, you are not able to report shadowing relatives. They can connect you with their colleagues, though!
- Ask healthcare providers whom you or someone you know has seen as a patient (Who is your primary care provider? Have you or someone you know seen a health professional for any reason? 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:
- Reach out and ask to meet by phone or video chat. Share your interest in healthcare 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).
- Prepare for the interview by learning about the person you will interview (if possible) and preparing questions.
- Call the provider at the time, and by the means, you agreed upon.
- Initiate and keep the conversation going. Ask the questions that you came up with ahead of time but let the conversation go in other directions as well. Also, be ready for them to ask you questions!
- 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 the people they recommend 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.
These are ideas for questions. Be sure to come up with your own as well!
Work environment and skills for success
• How would you describe the environment in which you work?
• How would you describe your typical day?
• What do you spend the most time doing?
• What kinds of problems/decisions do you face during your day?
• What are the most important skills you use every day?
• What makes a person successful in your position?
• Can you tell me about your career path and where you see yourself in a few years?
• What did you study in college and what did you do to prepare for professional school?
• How does this job affect your personal life?
• When selecting a professional program, what did you look for?
• Are there things you wish you had known or investigated when you researched and selected programs?
• May I use your name in contacting these people?
• If I have questions, may I stay in contact with you?
Be sure to send a thank-you email immediately (within a day) and a thank-you note within a week!