In “The Informational Interview Playbook,” the author shares his personal journey of landing a job without any connections and credits his success to his strategy of pursuing informational interviews. With over 100 interviews under his belt, he outlines his methods for preparing, executing, and following through on these valuable networking opportunities. From effective initial outreach emails to sample mid-interview questions, the author provides practical tips for individuals at various stages of their careers. He emphasizes the importance of engaging with interviewees, thanking them promptly, and maintaining ongoing communication. This tactics-filled book serves as a coach, and the author’s tracking system becomes your own version of watching film, ensuring you capture and capitalize on key outreach information. Overall, this book serves as an inspiring and empowering resource, urging readers to step out of their comfort zones and embrace the power of informational interviews.


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Before diving into the process of conducting an informational interview, it is essential to begin with adequate preparation. This includes identifying your goals, conducting research on your interviewee, and preparing a list of thoughtful questions.

Identify your goals

Start by clarifying the objectives of the informational interview. Are you seeking career advice, industry insights, or potential job opportunities? Clearly defining your goals will help guide your conversation and ensure you make the most out of the interview.

Research your interviewee

Once you have identified your goals, take the time to research the person you will be interviewing. Look into their background, professional achievements, and any relevant information that will facilitate a meaningful conversation. This preparation will not only demonstrate your genuine interest but also help you craft tailored questions.

Prepare your questions

Next, it’s crucial to prepare a list of thoughtful and well-researched questions. Consider asking about their career path, challenges they have faced, industry trends, and any advice they may have for someone in your position. Having a set of well-thought-out questions will ensure a smooth and engaging interview.


Crafting a compelling initial email and effectively following up are vital components of successfully securing an informational interview.

Crafting the initial email

When reaching out to potential interviewees, it is important to create an email that stands out and captures their attention. Begin with a friendly and professional greeting, briefly introduce yourself, and explain why you are interested in speaking with them. Clearly state your objective and request a specific time and date for the interview.

Follow-up strategies

If you do not receive a response to your initial email, don’t be discouraged. Follow-up emails can be an effective way to remind the person about your request and express your continued interest. Craft a concise and polite follow-up email, reiterating your intention and suggesting alternative times for the interview. Keep in mind that persistence combined with respect is key in this process.


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Conducting the Interview

Once you have successfully scheduled the interview, it is important to be well-prepared and create a comfortable environment for the conversation.

Setting up the interview

Before the interview, double-check the scheduled time and date to avoid any miscommunication. Ensure that you have a quiet and comfortable setting where you can focus on the conversation. It is also a good idea to have any necessary technology or tools ready, such as a recording device or notepad.

Breaking the ice

To start the conversation on a positive note, it is helpful to have an icebreaker question prepared. This will help establish rapport with your interviewee and make them feel more comfortable. Consider asking about their professional journey or any recent accomplishments they are proud of. The goal is to create a friendly and relaxed atmosphere for the interview.

Asking the right questions

During the interview, be sure to ask open-ended questions that encourage your interviewee to share their experiences and insights. Tailor your questions to their expertise and career trajectory. Remember to actively listen and ask follow-up questions to delve deeper into their responses. This will help you gain valuable information and build a stronger connection with your interviewee.

Active listening

Active listening is a crucial skill to master during informational interviews. Give your full attention to the interviewee, focusing on their words, body language, and tone of voice. Avoid interrupting and genuinely show interest in what they have to say. Engage with their responses by nodding, repeating key points, and asking thoughtful follow-up questions. Active listening will not only help you gather valuable information but also make a positive impression on the interviewee.

Taking notes

To ensure that you capture accurate and detailed information, it is important to take notes during the interview. Jot down key points, insights, and any relevant advice or tips provided by the interviewee. Taking notes will not only help you remember the details but also show your interviewee that you value their input and respect their expertise.

Building Relationships

Building strong relationships with your interviewees is a crucial aspect of the informational interview process. By expressing gratitude and maintaining ongoing engagement, you can nurture these connections for future opportunities.

Thanking the interviewee

Within 24 hours of the interview, it is essential to send a personalized thank-you note to express your appreciation for their time and insights. Mention specific points from the interview that resonated with you and explain how it has influenced your perspective. This gesture of gratitude will leave a lasting positive impression on the interviewee and strengthen your relationship.

Continuing to engage

Once you have established a connection with your interviewee, it is important to continue engaging with them on a regular basis. Share relevant articles, industry news, or updates that they might find interesting. Connect with them on professional networking platforms, such as LinkedIn, and comment on their posts or articles. By engaging consistently, you will stay on their radar and maintain a meaningful relationship.

Looping them into ongoing outreach

As you continue to expand your professional network, it is beneficial to loop your interviewees into ongoing outreach efforts. If you come across job opportunities, industry events, or other relevant information, share it with them. Including them in your professional network will not only provide value to them but also strengthen your relationship and potentially lead to future collaborations or referrals.


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Applying the Information

Once you have gathered valuable insights from your informational interviews, it is crucial to effectively utilize and apply that information to further your career goals.

Utilizing the information gathered

Review your notes from the interviews and identify key themes, advice, or strategies that resonate with you. Think about how you can incorporate this information into your own professional journey. Whether it’s refining your resume, developing new skills, or exploring potential career paths, utilize the information gathered to make informed decisions and take actionable steps towards your goals.

Creating a tracking system

To stay organized and maximize the benefits of your informational interviews, it is recommended to create a tracking system. This can be a simple spreadsheet or document where you record details such as interviewee names, contact information, interview dates, and key takeaways. Having a tracking system will help you stay organized, easily refer back to information, and identify any patterns or commonalities among the interviews.

Examples and Best Practices

To help you navigate the nuances of informational interviews, here are some examples and best practices to consider.

Effective initial outreach emails

Crafting a compelling initial outreach email is crucial to secure an informational interview. Personalize the email by mentioning something specific about the interviewee or their work that caught your attention. Clearly state your objective and the value you hope to gain from the interview. Keep the email concise, professional, and friendly, and conclude with a clear request for a specific time and date for the interview.

Sample mid-interview questions

Depending on your goals and the interviewee’s expertise, here are some sample mid-interview questions that can help you gather valuable insights:

  1. How did you navigate challenges or setbacks in your career?
  2. What industry trends do you think will shape the future of [insert industry]?
  3. How do you approach continuous learning and professional development?
  4. What advice would you give to someone starting their career in [insert industry]?
  5. How do you strike a work-life balance in your profession?

Feel free to customize these questions and tailor them to your specific objectives and the interviewee’s field of expertise.

Best practices for follow-through

After the interview, it is essential to follow through with your commitments. Thank the interviewee once again for their time and insights. If you mentioned sharing any resources or articles during the interview, be sure to send them promptly. Keep track of any action items or commitments you made during the interview and follow up on them within the agreed-upon timeframe. Consistency and reliability in your follow-through will leave a positive impression and reinforce your professionalism.

Applying the lessons learned

Informational interviews are an opportunity to gain valuable insights, guidance, and advice. To make the most of these learnings, reflect on the key takeaways from each interview and identify actionable steps you can take based on the information received. Whether it’s adjusting your career goals, expanding your professional network, or honing specific skills, apply the lessons learned to progress in your career journey.

End-of-Chapter Exercises

To reinforce the concepts learned throughout this article, here are some end-of-chapter exercises to complete:

Creating a tracking sheet

Create your own version of the tracking sheet mentioned earlier in this article. Include fields for interviewee names, contact information, interview dates, key takeaways, and any follow-up actions or commitments. This tracking sheet will serve as a valuable resource to organize and refer back to the information gathered during your informational interviews.

Applying the strategies learned

Choose at least three strategies or best practices discussed in this article and apply them to your next informational interview request. Craft a personalized and compelling initial email, follow up effectively, or demonstrate active listening during the interview. Apply the strategies that resonate with you and observe the impact they have on securing and conducting successful informational interviews.

Benefits of Informational Interviews

Informational interviews offer numerous advantages for job seekers and professionals looking to expand their network.

Advantages for job seekers

For job seekers, informational interviews provide an opportunity to gain valuable insights into a specific industry, career path, or company. They can help you gather essential information about a potential job or field, understand the skills and qualifications required, and gain a competitive edge in the job market. Additionally, informational interviews can lead to potential job opportunities, as they allow you to foster relationships with professionals who may have openings or can provide referrals.

Expanding your professional network

Beyond job seeking, informational interviews are an excellent way to expand your professional network. They allow you to connect with industry experts, establish relationships with influential individuals in your field, and build a network of mentors and advisors. These connections can open doors to new opportunities, collaborations, and valuable connections throughout your career.

Overcoming Challenges

While informational interviews offer numerous benefits, there are potential challenges that you may encounter throughout the process. By understanding and addressing these challenges, you can navigate through them effectively.

Dealing with rejections

Not everyone you reach out to will agree to an informational interview. Rejections are a normal part of the process and should not be taken personally. Instead, view rejections as an opportunity to learn and improve your approach. Reflect on the reasons for the rejection, adjust your outreach strategies if necessary, and continue reaching out to other professionals in your desired field.

Managing time constraints

Time constraints can be challenging when scheduling informational interviews. Professionals are often busy and may have limited availability. When requesting an interview, be respectful of their time and offer flexibility with scheduling options. If their availability does not align with your initial request, propose alternative times or consider conducting a phone or video interview that can accommodate their schedule.

Final Thoughts and Encouragement

Embracing the process of informational interviews can be intimidating but is ultimately rewarding. By taking the initiative to connect with professionals in your desired field, you gain valuable insights, expand your network, and increase your chances of success in your career journey.

Remember, be fearless and persistent in reaching out to professionals. Each informational interview is an opportunity for growth and development. Stay motivated and believe in your ability to navigate the process. As the author of “The Informational Interview Playbook” wisely advises, “Be a dog. Be a lion. Be a champion. You’re going to be great regardless because most people are scared to do any of this, period.”

With the right preparation, approach, and follow-through, your informational interviews can propel you towards your career goals and lead to exciting opportunities. Embrace the process, stay motivated, and let each interview serve as a stepping stone to your professional success.