Before you start your job search, conducting several Informational Interviews can serve you well. The purpose of an Informational Interview is not to inquire about a job, but learn about a practice area, agency or firm. During the interview, you are asking questions of an attorney, seeking information that will assist you in refining and focusing your job search. While asking the attorney questions about their job, their practice, their career path, you are actually receiving an insider’s view of their particular practice area. You are learning what a typical day is like and what knowledge and skills are important.
Through the Informational Interviewing process you will begin to discover what practice area is right for you. As you hear and become familiar with the jargon and language used in a specific law practice area, you will gain insight in how best to proceed in your job search and will begin to cultivate important relationships with people who are doing what you hope to do in the near future.
Informational Interviews will reveal useful information and advice. Often the attorney will refer you to other contacts he/she might have for additional information. Feel free to ask the attorney to review your resume. Within that specific area of law, the attorney might have pointers that will assist you in targeting your application materials. The process of conducting an Informational Interview allows you to make a professional connection that will remember you in the future.
When scheduling an Informational Interview keep these pointers in mind:
- Ask the contact for no more than 20–30 minutes of his/her time
- Research the contact and the firm or agency so that your questions will be relevant
- Determine goals for the interview, what you hope to learn, before preparing your questions
- Prepare eight to ten questions for the interview
- Be an active listener
- Follow up with a thank you note
- If the contact refers you to someone else, follow up with the lead promptly and keep the original contact updated
Informational Interviews not only help you prepare for your job search, but they assist you in building self-confidence and honing your professionalism. And, as an added bonus, you just might position yourself to be contacted when a job opening does occur!