A lot of people talk about the importance of informational interviews when it comes to job searching. I agree that in certain scenarios, they can be incredibly useful:
- When you identify an ideal place to work but no jobs are posted
- When you’re trying to learn more about a certain career path
- When you have a personal connection to someone who has an interesting role
While informational interviews don’t always result in a job, they can result in a job. If nothing else, they will enable you to form new connections, strengthen existing connections, and gather knowledge that you didn’t have prior.
Now that we’ve established that they’re useful, let’s talk about how to ask for one.
Here are 3 email templates you can use to ask for informational interviews from friends, acquaintances, and total strangers.
While we obviously know our friends really well, it always surprises me how little we know about what they actually do day to day on the job. Even close friends can be great candidates for informational interviews. Of course, your email can adopt a more casual tone.
As I may have mentioned to you [whenever it may have been mentioned], I’ve been thinking about exploring a new career path and I’m looking to learn more about the [area] world, which of course you know all about.
Can I drop by your office with coffee some time [time frame] and pick your brain about your role at [company]?
This is more of the met-you-once, friend-of-friend category. They’ll remember your name but you don’t know each other that well. Scour LinkedIn looking for these kinds of people. You may come across someone who does your dream job or works at an amazing company, and since you’re not a total stranger, they will be more willing to help you out.
I’m not sure if you remember me but we met through [mutual contact] [when you met]. I’m a [describe] professional currently working as a [title] at [company].
Recently, I’ve been considering a career move and I’m targeting careers at/in [describe what you’re looking for – either the type of job or type of company/industry].
I know you’ve been working at/working as [company or type of role] for the last [x] years and I thought you would be a great person to learn from. I know you’re probably very busy but if you have time for a quick call or if I can drop by your office with coffee, I’d love to learn more about your day-to-day, what it’s like to work at [company], and any advice you may have for me as I explore this path.
In general, I find that total strangers won’t usually respond to informational interview requests (unless they’re asked by a mutual connection as a favor, which makes them not a true stranger).
That being said, I think one group of “strangers” that might be open to informationals are alumni. This will depend on the school, as some have more tight-knit communities than others, but I have noticed that alumni tend to be willing to help each other out.
Hey [fellow alum],
I hope you don’t mind me reaching out but I was doing some research on LinkedIn [or your alumni database if applicable], and wanted to introduce myself. I noticed that you’ve been working in the [functional area] field at [company] and this is a [field/company/area/type of role] that I am very interested in.
I am also a [school] alum and have been [describe what you’ve been doing since graduation or lately]. I have been thinking about my next career move and a goal of mine is to move into a role [describe the role or industry you want to learn more about].
I was wondering if you’d be open to having a brief call or meeting as I think you’d be a great person to learn from. I would love to hear more about your role, career path, and what it’s been like to work at [company].
*This template can also be adjusted to reach out to a complete stranger but as I mentioned earlier, I don’t generally see a high response rate for informationals if there is no common ground or mutual connection – but never say never!
A word about templates
As with any template I ever share on the site, the best outreach notes (or cover letters, elevator pitches, or interview answers for that matter) are always customized and feel as personal as possible.
People want to connect with and help humans, not robots. If something seems overly formal or so generic that it was probably sent to 50 other people, you are much less likely to get a response.