How Informational Interviews Help You Learn About Possible Career Paths

A young woman learns about different career paths through informational interviews

There’s been a big shake-up in the workplace in the past two years, and you might be asking yourself how you may be able to transfer relevant skills and experience to a different industry. Perhaps you’re looking to work in the same general field, but are curious about possible career paths in different organizations. Or, maybe you’re seeking career progression for the sake of better pay, greater responsibility or both. 

Wherever you find yourself in your career path, it’s always beneficial to have more information before you make any professional changes. Informational interviewing can help you learn more about any possible career paths you may be considering.

What Is Informational Interviewing?

In an informational interview, you ask a knowledgeable professional for information about their career. That’s right – you become the interviewer. These discussions tend to be informal in nature and should not be seen as an opportunity to ask for a job. Most likely, the professionals you ask to share their career path story will not work in HR and will not be looking to dole out any favors to someone they just met. 

The person you speak with will, however, be excited to explain their professional journey, daily tasks they are responsible for and any advice they deem applicable to your particular career goals. 

While this counsel is useful, if it doesn’t directly result in landing a job then why should you spend time setting up these informational interviews?

What Are The Benefits Of Informational Interviews?

The knowledge you gain from informational interviews will be invaluable as you begin mapping out possible career paths. The interviewee will be able to share the realities of the workplace not only through their personal experiences but possibly even through their own network connections. 

If you chose a mid- or senior-level professional to interview, you might learn how they climbed to the top and some practical tips on how to land your first position in this journey. Additionally, the professional might be inclined to share how they  might have done things differently if they could restart their own career path. 

Ultimately, you may realize the industry or organization does not belong on your own career path; one or two interviews can save you potentially years of learning the hard way! At the very least, you now have a new business connection who can point you in another direction or set up an interview with someone in their network.

Informational interviews provide indispensable knowledge when researching possible career paths and bring you one step closer to landing a new job.