If you haven’t worked or volunteered in the career field you are interested in, informational interviews are a great way to get a good sense of whether or not you really want to pursue a career in that field.
Be sure to check out part 1 of this series on informational interviewing, which outlines the reasons why students and new grads should use informational interviewing as a networking tool and to help them figure out what they want to do.
But be aware of how to do it right, or you risk alienating the very people you want to woo.
Where to meet
Meeting at the workplace of the person you are interviewing takes minimal effort on the part of the interviewee and can give you a sense of the working environment of the career you are interested in.
If the person you are interviewing would prefer to meet elsewhere, allow them to suggest a place that is most convenient for them, such as a restaurant or coffee shop.
Let your personality show
While your interview should be focused on career-related discussion, allowing time to discuss other related interests can help you build a relationship with the interviewee.
Building a professional friendship with your interviewee will make it easier to maintain contact after the interview.
Examples of questions to ask
Be sure to do research before you meet the person! Asking questions you could have easily found answers to elsewhere will be a waste of time for both of you and is unlikely to make a good impression on the person you are interviewing.
Check out their LinkedIn or other professional profile before you meet them, and then ask them to elaborate on the basics in the interview.