By Zoe Brinner ’23
CES Peer Advisor
Once you’ve found the perfect interviewee, you’ll want to prepare for your interview by:
- Communicating with your interviewee
- Choosing the questions you’ll ask
After you have selected who you’d like to interview, you need to reach out to them to request an interview. Your initial message should include the following three aspects:
- An introduction…
- Briefly describe what you’re studying, your year in school, and your career aspirations.
- How you found their contact information and what interests you about their role/experience…
- Did you meet them at an event, hear about them through a professor, or find them on LinkedIn? Including this information will establish a connection or remind them of who you are if you’ve already met.
- A request to schedule an informational interview and what you hope to learn…
- Share your learning goal so they know what information will be useful to you.
Whether you’re emailing your interviewee or drafting your questions, always use professional, respectful, and inclusive language. And always remember to proofread — triple checking is always better than double checking!
Grammar and spelling aside, the questions you choose can make or break your experience. Give yourself plenty of time to sit and brainstorm, instead of jotting questions down five minutes before you meet.
Consider your main learning goal. Are you curious about their position, their organization, or the path you’ll need to take to get there? Narrow down what you want to know and questions will come to you more easily!
Make sure to ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” or another one- or two-word answer.
Instead of asking “Do you like your job?” (yes/no) or “How do you feel about your job?” (good/bad) ask “What do you like best about your job?” or “Why do you think your job is a good fit for you?”
The CES Informational Interview guide has a great list of questions you can ask. Feel free to rephrase the questions — using your own words will help the interview feel more natural.
A typical informational interview only lasts 20–40 minutes, so you don’t need an endless list of questions! Prepare 8–12 questions and put the important questions earlier in your list so you don’t run out of time to ask them.
When preparing to interview Dr. Keller I was interested in learning about:
- The pros and cons of taking time off before graduate school
- Dr. Keller’s experience entering the chiropractic field coming from a humanities education at a liberal arts college
- General information about her experience in the role
- How and why she decided to become a chiropractor
- What advice she had for college students
Therefore I asked the following questions:
- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- What drew you toward working in a health profession, and more specifically to chiropractic?
- What was it like applying for and attending graduate school in a health-related program coming from a background in humanities?
- How did the time you took between undergrad and graduate school prepare you for chiropractic school?
- How do you feel Puget Sound prepared you for your graduate school experience?
- How did you choose to attend Western States?
- What is your favorite part of your job?
- What are the most challenging and most rewarding aspects of your job?
- What is the importance of networking in your field?
- How do you find work/life balance?
- What advice do you have for someone who’d like to enter this field?
- What career advice would you have offered your college self?
Now you should be all set to conduct your interview! Visit our office for a practice-run through your questions or any further advice.