How to Request an Informational Interview by Email

By Monday, November 12, 2012 17 Permalink 0

how to request an informational interview

Just over a week ago, I wrote about mistakes to avoid when seeking an informational interview. In it, I explained what an informational interview is and isn’t, as well as the common mistakes I’ve seen people make. If you missed it, you can check out that post here.

Today, I’m here to tell you how to request an informational interview by email and get greater results. If you follow these steps, you should see an increase in the number of people willing to speak to you. And if not meetings, you’ll get more replies.

Be Thankful.

I’ve been preaching this since I started writing on careers, but you need to show gratitude for the respondent’s time. You always have to expect that whoever you’re contacting is getting similar requests from elsewhere. The first thing you need to do is thank them for taking the time to read your message. If you’ve been blown off before, you know a response isn’t a guarantee. It let’s them know you’re appreciate and that you value their limited time.

Tell them why you thought he or she was a great resource.

This is different from how you found them, though you should share that too. Highlight what you know about their background, your goal and how a conversation with them will get you closer to achieving it. The goal should not be to turn the discussion into a job. It should be to make you a better overall applicant or job seeker.

Propose time blocks.

Don’t make them do all the thinking. They should be able to look at the times you said worked and quickly reference their calendars. You also want to convey you’re willing to work around their schedules. There is no entitlement, only humility.

Thank them again. And if they can’t accommodate, be prepared.

Reinforce your gratitude. It’ll help you begin and end on a high note. Be prepared for a no. Let them know that if they can’t accommodate, they’re free to point you in the right direction. You may be thinking but doesn’t that give them an out? The truth is that if they’re going to say no, they’re going to say no. But maybe they know someone that may be able to help you. On top of that, always be prepared for just one response.

A Sample

Here’s (a sample of) what an informational interview request should look like:

Hi Mr. Johnson,

Thanks for taking the time to read my message. I’m trying to figure out what it takes to work as an HR professional in a new media company and came cross your profile in a LinkedIn search. It looks like you’ve been successful in turning my dream into your reality, and I’d love to chat with you about how you made it happen.

I know your time is valuable, so I plan to limit this conversation to no longer than an hour. I’m available Wednesday and Thursday from 11am to 3pm. Please let me know if any of these time blocks work for you. If you’re not free, I’m happy to chat the following week. I’m also willing to reach out to anybody you think could help me further my career. Thanks again for reading my message, and I look forward to hearing back from you!

Rich

If you follow these steps, you’ll increase the likelihood of getting a response. Good luck in your search and let me know if you have any questions.

Rich

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17 Comments
  • JD
    November 14, 2012

    Great post.

    Also be sure to do research on this individual before hand. You might find out they transitioned from HR to finance. If you’re looking to make a similar move then ask them about their experience. That wisdom can help if you’re looking to make a similar move in your career.

    Oh.. this needs repeating but.. do not make this a job interview!! You want them to talk about themselves, but the research will help you guide the convo to your advantage.

    Also this isn’t Menace to Society and this an interrogation. Mix it up! Instead of “Why did you go into finance?”… “Why did you choose that major?”… “Why did you leave all that money on the table?”… say something like.. “When you decided to switch to finance it must of been tough leaving all that money on the table and go to a more risky venture”.

    Empathy!

    … and if you hear something they say that you can use to relate back to yourself (for a moment!) then do it.

    Them: yap yap yap.. i was in the position to make another xxxx amount of dollar but i wanted to make a contribution to the world.. and frankly was tired of doing excel spreadsheets.

    Spreadsheets?? You know about that!

    You: that is really interesting, because i feel like i’m in a similar situation. I’ve been working and doing excel spreadsheets for most of my career/coursework, and i was really looking to take it to a more creative side. How do you think about that decision?

    just keep the radio of questions about them to you about 3:1. that’s because no one cares about you! lol you’re just here to learn and listen. Learn and Listen.

    Information… al.. Interview.

    30 min convo should be 25min them..5mins you.

    This is good info in this post Rich. Keep this up (Please- this is what i come here to read lol)

    • Rich
      November 15, 2012

      Thanks for the insightful comment. Great points there as well. Now back to working on my next post. :)

  • LaTeefah
    February 24, 2013

    I’m interested in interviewing someone in a specific company and cannot find anyone in my area that works at this company on linkedin; however I know they have offices in the area. Is it bad etiquette to write to the Cleveland office asking for an informational session with someone in the marketing department?

    • Rich
      February 25, 2013

      I’d write to someone in the HR department, who can point you to someone or tell you what the policy is on informational interviews.

      If not that, you can find someone in the marketing department who may not be a current LinkedIn contact, see if you share any groups in common, then add or message them that way to try and set up a meeting.

      Rich

  • Richard
    March 5, 2013

    Hi Rich,

    Awesome write up! Very insightful. Keep up the good work.

  • Faraz
    April 15, 2013

    Great informative post. One thing to clarify in your example, the allowed limit on LinkedIn contact request message before that peson is in your list is only 300 words.

    So asking for informative interview in your request should be really specific and tailored.

    • Rich
      April 16, 2013

      Hey Faraz,

      Thanks for the feedback. Much appreciated and point noted. I’d also note that using a connection request to ask for an info interview is a last resort. Much easier to connect, build a relationship, then ask. Slower process, but usually a better response rate when you do ask.

      • Jessica
        February 22, 2014

        That’s exactly what my uncle recommended. I’ve sent out two connection requests saying something like. “I’m interested in learning more about the marketing field that you work in, and would like to connect.” Does that sound ok? Any suggestions how to make it better?

  • Joy
    June 5, 2013

    Excellent advice and example! I just used it to craft an email – thank you.

  • Winifred Winston
    June 30, 2013

    Great sample! I teach career planning & job search; I will share this sample with my students.

    Enthusiastically,

    Winifred

  • Morgan
    November 9, 2013

    Thank you for this post Rich, it was truly helpful. I do have one question. What is the best Subject Title for such a request?

    Off to reading some of your other posts!
    Morgan

  • Lilly
    February 17, 2014

    It worked!!! I read your article last week and requested an informal interview at an investment firm (associate position) and they loved me! I used your sample and twisted it a little bit. Thank you!!!

    • Rich J.
      February 17, 2014

      Thanks for the messge and glad to hear it worked! Keep me posted on additional success/updates!

      • Lilly
        March 9, 2014

        Will do! Thanks! I got my second interview next week! I will keep you posted!

  • Alexandra
    February 19, 2014

    Great post, Rich! I have browsed around a few email templates to request for an informational interview but I found that yours is the most concise and right to the point!

    What would you suggest as the subject line? I found that the first challenge is perhaps a ‘catchy’ subject line to prompt the reader to actually open the email!

    Cheers.

  • Cayla
    May 15, 2014

    I used your post as a rough guide to request a research interview for an independent project. While not quite the same intention, I found your tips extremely helpful and professional! Especially important when taking up someone else’s time is inserting those time blocks as you suggested. It wasn’t something I had thought of earlier but it is extremely simple and effective.
    Thanks for your (unintended) help. I’ve secured presidents of organizations as informants.

    • Rich J.
      May 19, 2014

      Glad it was useful if even in a roundabout way!

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