Master the Informational Interview to Explore and Connect

Career Blog

Conducting informational interviews is a great way to learn about careers of interest, expand your knowledge of an industry, and increase your networking connections. 

You’ve heard this advice during your MLIS or MARA path: Conduct informational interviews. And you haven’t followed that advice yet. But although setting up and going through with one may make you somewhat anxious, informational interviews are much less terrifying in real time than you might think.

Of course you can make arguments against taking this step, but these are easily refuted. Wanna play?

Argument: I’ve never heard of informational interviewing before this program. It is not a real thing.
Rebuttal: Au contraire, mon frere.
a. It’s in Wikipedia, so it must be real.
b. Lots of other resources online talk about how and why to conduct them.
c. Professionals in the field understand the important of informational interviews.

Argument: I don’t know anyone I should talk to.
Rebuttal: Maybe not, but you have a network of people who can help you. Look in our Alumni Career Spotlights. Look through your connections on LinkedIn. Maybe your sister-in-law works with a guy whose wife will agree to an interview request. Maybe there’s a connection like that in your life that can lead to a useful meeting?

Argument: I’m new to this LIS world. I don’t even know what questions to ask.
Rebuttal: Here’s a whole list to get you started. Read Infonista.com’s article on the topic here, too.

Argument: I don’t want to bother someone. And, anyway, why would they agree?
Rebuttal: Take inspiration from iSchool alumni: If someone sent you an email asking about the iSchool program, would you want to respond? You’d probably say yes, because this great LIS community we are now a part of prides itself on helping others and sharing ideas. Plus, the graduates in the Alumni Career Spotlights voluntarily submit their profiles hoping to be contacted so that they can help. You wouldn’t want to disappoint them, now would you?

Anything else? No? Super.

Conducting informational interviews is a great way to learn about careers of interest, expand your knowledge of an industry, and increase your networking connections. Maybe you’ll figure out that interesting sounding job title is actually The Most Boring Job in The World. Or you’ll learn that public libraries near you get 100 applicants per job posting (me. sigh). Or that your sister-in-law secretly knows a ton of people. You will never find out if you don’t try. So go forth and interview (and then let us know how it goes, k?).

Add your thoughts in the comments below to continue the conversation.

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