Jobs: The Informational Interview

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By Efim Cheinis and Dale Sproule
This is a chapter from the book the authors are writing called The Canadian Job Market Guide for Newcomers

This is a chapter from the book the authors are writing called The Canadian Job Market Guide for Newcomers


Part of your job search involves finding answers to such questions as: what duties are expected of workers in your occupation, what education do you need and where is the best place in Canada to find a job in your field? One of the best ways to get these answers is through an “informational interview”. How do you get an informational interview and what information can you hope to receive through this process?


Most of the time when you ask for an informational interview you will be not be rejected most people are happy and flattered to share their expertise.

An informational interview need not be with the potential employer. It is possible to meet with an Employment Agency worker, the librarian in your library, a teacher at a local college, the counselor from an Employment Resource Centre and many others. One of the best places to get an informational interview is at a Job Fair, where it is not necessary to schedule a meeting in advance in order to talk to someone.

How do you arrange an informational interview? Begin by searching for important people using your network. Look through Business Directories and “Help wanted” ads. Receptionists will often help you figure out the right person to talk to. Arranging an interview is possible by letter, e-mail or by phone. For example, you may call a prospective employer and say: “Hello, my name is Ranjeet. I am a newcomer to Canada and got your name from Mr. Johns. You’re in a line of work that I’m interested in, and I was hoping that you could help me gain insights into the profession. I’m sure that my questions could be answered in a 15-20 minute informational interview”.

Informational interview can be not only oral, but also written. If the person does not have time for a meeting, ask him to answer letter or e-mail with your questions.

The informational interview has some differences from job interview: ”

  • The initiative in carrying out the interview belongs personally to you, and you are the more concerned person,
  • The purpose of informational interview is not to get a job, but get information, which will open to you new opportunities and will facilitate your job search,
  • The interviewer in an informational interview is you and, therefore, the one who asks questions is you. Prepare a list of questions in advance, including: what duties must be performed by someone in this occupation; what knowledge, experience and education is necessary for this job; how do you get the desired qualifications; and what are the best ways of searching for such work.

Here are some sample questions, you can ask during an informational interview to expand your business network:

  • Does your company have any other division that might need someone with my qualifications?
  • Do you know anyone else in the business community who might have a lead for me?
  • Which are the most rapidly growing companies in this area? Whom should I speak to there?
  • Do you know anyone at the ABC Company? “
  • Are you planning any new projects that might create an opening?

During the informational interview it is possible to show your resume and portfolio and ask for advice how to improve them. Listen carefully to the person you are interviewing and make a notes. After the interview, it is very important to write a letter to thank for taking the time to meet with you

Additional information

Literature: Stuart Schwartz and Craig Conley, “Interviewing for Information”.

Internet: /informational_interviewing.html

Tips: Try to perform informational interviews as much as possible. As well as gathering necessary information, it is a great way to practice conversation in English and experience the workplace environment.

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