Interviewing Basics

The Interviewing E-Guide offers information on all aspects of the interviewing process including interview types, interview formats, example questions, and steps to take before, during, and after the interview.

Interview Steps

1. Screening

Short phone call asking questions about skills needed to perform successfully in the role.
Common Screening Questions:

2. Personal/Individual/1st Round

A 30-45 minute conversation where you are asked questions about your background and experience and explain why you want the position and to work for the organization.

3. Approach the Contacts

There are several ways to approach contacts to request an informational interview – e-mail, telephone or letter.

When communicating with your contacts you should:

  • Mention the name of the person who referred you: “Robin Butler, a mutual friend of ours, suggested that I talk to you because you are knowledgeable about…”
  • Tell the individual you are trying to decide on a career and doing research on occupations in their field: “I am interested in learning more about ___ field.”
  • Ask to set up a convenient time for an interview, preferably no more than 20 minutes: “At your convenience, I would like to talk to you for 20 minutes about…”

4. Prepare Yourself

Prepare yourself for the informational interview by doing the following:
  • Send your resume to the contact only if he or she requests it
  • Research the contact’s occupation, company and industry
  • Formulate specific questions to ask before the interview

5. Treat Your Contact Professionally

Making a good first impression will be critical if you want to return at a later time as a job hunter. During the interview, be sure to initiate the following:
  • Immediately establish rapport with the contact and indicate an interest in his/her career
  • Ask if you may take notes before the interview begins
  • Ask prepared questions and questions that come to mind as a result of the discussion
  • Thank the contact for the time they spent with you and highlight how they have been of assistance
  • Take a few moments immediately after the interview to consolidate and organize your notes

6. Send Thank-You Letters

Immediately after the informational interview send a thank you note to the contact. Be specific about how the interview helped you gain insight into the industry or field. Check out the following samples for guidance: Sample Thank You Letter 1 , Sample Thank You Letter 2.

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Appropriate questions to ask during an Informational Interview:

  • How did you get involved in this field?
  • What major responsibilities do you have?
  • What are your biggest challenges on the job?
  • What do you enjoy most about your work?
  • What do you enjoy least about your work?
  • What is a typical day like?
  • What is the typical work environment for this field?
  • What type of people do you work with?
  • What is the typical career path for this profession?
  • What educational background is most appropriate for this field?
  • Is additional education or training beyond a bachelor’s degree necessary for advancement?
  • Are there special skills (computer programming, foreign languages, report writing, graphics, etc.) one should have?
  • What qualities should a person possess if they are considering this field?
  • How important is relocation? At first? Later on? Is travel involved?
  • Are there other opportunities for professional development?
  • What unique problems do professionals in this field face?
  • What trends do you see taking place in this profession?
  • Is there any other information I should have before pursuing a career in this industry?
  • What advice do you have for someone like me who would like to enter this field?