Mastering the Art of the Informational Interview: LinkedIn Career Expert Series

May 10, 2016

Before landing their first job, we found that students connect with at least three professionals from within a company. It’s never too early to start building those relationships by setting up informational interviews with people who are doing what you want to do or work in an industry that you want to get into. But we get it, reaching out to someone you don’t know can be daunting, so here are some tips to set you up for the most impactful informational interviews.


Figure out what interests you

First things first, think about the jobs that you find interesting. If you need some ideas, our new LinkedIn Students app recommends jobs to explore based on career paths of alumni with similar degrees.  



Touch up your profile

Make sure your LinkedIn profile tells the story you want your future boss or colleagues to see. Start with the basics: 1) upload a professional profile photo, 2) add your current location, and 3) update the industry you want to work in so it reflects what you want to do in your career. If you don’t have formal job experience, don’t worry! You can include your education, skills, school projects, honors and awards, and volunteer experience -- you probably have more to offer than you realize!



Reach out to people you want to get to know

Identify a few people who work in jobs you’re interested in. Our LinkedIn Students App will suggest some people to you, so pay especially close attention to those with whom you share a common connection. Then, ask your connection for an introduction on LinkedIn highlighting why this person’s profile stood out for you, what you have in common and what you’d like to speak to them about.



Prepare for the interview

If someone takes the time out of their busy day to meet with you, make the most of their time...and yours. Study their LinkedIn profile, read their posts, check out what they’ve shared recently. Go to their company’s LinkedIn Company Page to see what’s important to their employer. Check out LinkedIn Pulse for the latest news in their industry. All of this will help you come up with smart questions and continue the conversation.



Always say thank you

No matter how you think the conversation went, send a thank you message on LinkedIn within a few days. Be sure to mention something specific and memorable about your conversation, and cite any follow-up you plan to take. And don’t forget to connect with them on LinkedIn! The most important tip of all: be yourself. You never know where these conversations will take you.