Informational Interviewing

While we are on the subject of getting on the inside of potential employers, let's clear the air on a very common misperception among college students. There has been a plethora of books written on the subject of informational interviewing and on using it as a technique to get an interview.

However, if you use informational interviewing as a ruse (i.e., lie, deception) for getting an interview, it may end up hurting you and your chances of employment rather than helping. I have seen the scores of abuses in this area.

Some career authors (often with little or no personal real-world work experience) are unknowingly setting up college students for the wrong use of informational interviewing. There is a right use of informational interviewing, namely, to speak with someone in a career you are considering to help you decide whether to pursue that career path. The wrong use of informational interviewing is when you already know what career path you intend to pursue and use informational interviewing as a technique for talking to someone on the inside of a company in order to try to get an interview. Let's call it what it is—dishonest and unethical.

My advice: don't use informational interviewing as a method to get an interview. If you are an underclassman sincerely seeking information on which career to pursue, informational interviewing is extremely valid. But there should be no interview strings attached. On the other hand, if your true motivation is to get an interview with the company, do not lie about it. Be up front. And use the following technique as an honest and ethical way to get on the inside.