Student Services

Informational Interview or Job Shadowing Questions

An informational interview is also called job shadowing. It is a very important step in the career decision-making process. After you have completed career assessments and career research, it is recommended that you talk to a professional working in your field of interest. The purpose of your talk is to gather information to help you decide on a career. Many times you will be able to meet the professional at their worksite. If this is not possible, a phone interview can be very informative. An informational interview or job shadowing is not to be confused with a job interview.

Here are some questions you might ask:

  • What is your job title?
  • How long have you worked in this particular position?
  • What other positions have you held in your career?
  • Please describe your daily activities?
  • What is rewarding/challenging about your work? 
  • Share with me the personal qualities needed to be successful in this position?
  • What skills are required to perform the job well?
  • What education and training is required to obtain a position like this one?
  • What courses do you recommend I take?
  • How did you learn about this position and what steps did you take to get it?
  • Share with me the associations you participate in?
  • How do you stay ahead of the trends or changes in your field?
  • Does the organization offer benefits like tuition reimbursement?
  • What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing this career?

Making Contact

  • Begin with someone you know.
  • Write a brief note to those you don't know, explaining that you are seeking an opportunity to gain information about the career and that you will be calling in a few days to request an opportunity to meet with them.   

Making the Call

  • Write out your lines and rehearse them.  Practice and preparation make a good impression.
  • Have your schedule available.  Know when you will be able to meet.  Allow yourself enough travel time.
  • Smile - people can hear a smile over the phone.
  • Briefly introduce yourself and explain why you are calling (to gather career information).  If the contact is busy or distracted ask if you can schedule a time convenient to them to call.
  • Stress that you are seeking information that will help you in making an informed career decision….that you are not seeking employment.
  • Ask what day/time is convenient for them.
  • If the contact says, "No", be polite and thank them for their time.
  • If the contact says, "Yes", express your appreciation and confirm the appointment.
  • Ask about the appropriate attire and the directions.
  • Ask if they have a website.  Learn about the company before job shadowing.       
  • Know who they are, what they do, and where they are located.

The Informational Interview

  • Arrive early. Allow time for parking.
  • Introduce yourself. Use a firm handshake, make eye contact and smile.
  • Explain the purpose of the interview - class assignment, gain career information about a profession to help you make a career decision.
  • Share what you learned about the company.  Offer them a sincere compliment. 
  • Ask questions, listen carefully and take notes.
  • If interrupted, wait patiently.  If they begin rambling, guide them back with - "Excuse me Mr/Mrs. ______, I know your time is limited and I have a few more questions I would like to ask."
  • Close on a positive note.  Tell them it was a valuable experience for you.


Send a thank you note! Thank them for their time; share what you learned; thank the person for the information you received; and share the benefits of the information - "From our meeting, I have determined this is the right career for me."  Or "Although I found your job very interesting, I don't feel it is the right career for me and I am glad I found out early so I can plan my education toward a new career path."

Appropriate Dress

  • Females should wear a dress or suit. The skirt should have an hem 1" about the knee. A sweater or jacket can compliment the outfit. Wear nylons and pumps.
  • Males should wear a shirt, tie slacks and dress shoes or a suit.
  • Conservative colors are best. A conservative personal look is recommended. Proper hygiene and very light cologne/perfumes are appreciated. Enjoy a mint before your appointment!
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