By Julia Sosenko
BGE Career Strategy & Professional Development
Caleb McKinney's 5 Tips for Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are very important tools for both expanding your network, and for learning whether or not a certain career path is of interest to you. If you attended our Individual Development Plan workshop, you heard from CSPD’s Caleb McKinney how he approached informational interviews during his training.
Read below to see the five strategies Caleb used to land a successful informational interview with a training director during his postdoctoral training:
- When asking for the interview, highlight how the person you are emailing has impacted you. For example, Caleb gave positive feedback on how well executed he thought the training director’s programs were in the beginning of his email, before he asked to meet. This may not apply if you are emailing someone outside of your network, in which case you can instead mention something about his or her work (i.e. a publication you read) that you admire.
- Be clear about the goal of your email - ask to set up a time to meet, or speak over the phone. Caleb would often ask to meet for 30 minutes so as not to take up too much of the other person’s time.
- Introduce your background appropriately. If you choose to send your resume in your reach out (which is not required,) Caleb would always mention he was attaching his resume to introduce his background. That is important to mention, as you do not want to appear to be soliciting a job.
- Come prepared with good questions. Here are some that Caleb asked during his information interviews:
- “How did you use your scientific training to help you in your current role?”
- “Do I need to demonstrate a certain set of skills to be competitive for this line of work?”
- “How can I hone those skills in my current situation?”
- “Do you know where I could find opportunities for gaining experience in this field?”
- Follow up with a thank you note! Always send either an email or even better, a handwritten note, to thank the person who met with you.
Overall, remember that an informational interview is a conversation, not a solicitation! For even more tips and sample questions, check out this New York Times article.