By: Emily Palmeri, DePaul University Honors Marketing Major ’18, Alumni Sharing Knowledge Marketing Intern

After scrolling through mentors on the ASK network, you come across a mentor who has it all: a great job, killer profile and the expertise and experiences you’re looking to emulate and learn from. An informational interview would be the perfect way to gain first-hand insight on the mentor’s career path. The tricky part, however, is knowing how to effectively initiate this interview.

Lucky for you, we’ve simplified the informational interview process into three easy steps:

1. The Invitation

With the new ASK platform, the invitation email template is already laid out for you! This structure below illustrates an effective and direct message that’ll help you receive a reply. This template can also be used via email or Linkedin when setting up informational interviews.

  1. All about them: Your message should be personalized to the recipient. They are potentially volunteering their time to work with you. Be sure to state how you found them and what drew you to their profile or network. Try complimenting their work, skills, and accomplishments.
  2. State your intentions: Be clear and concise with what you’re interested in achieving- career advice, long-term mentorship. This indicates that you are asking for help and anticipate a response back. A vague request decreases your chances of receiving a reply.
  3. Time Bound: It is important to set a reasonable deadline (two weeks recommended) when meeting with an alumni. This demonstrates that you value not only this connection but the mentor’s time. With the new platform, you can request and reschedule meeting times with a click of a button.

2. The Interview

Because everyone likes to talk about themselves, prepare a list of questions to ask to your interviewee. Questions pertaining to company culture, their career path, favorite & least favorite aspects of their job, etc., are great starting points. At the end of the interview, if all is going well, ask if the mentor would be willing to connect you with someone in their network. There may be someone they know that will become an even greater resource to you.

3. The Follow-Up

In your follow up email, it is important to not only thank the mentor for their time but state a plan of action to continue the relationship.

  1. Thank the interviewee for meeting with you.
  2. Highlight that you paid attention and valued the conversation by stating a fact or piece of advice that resonated with you during the interview.
  3. Don’t let that be the last of your communication and connection. Ask the mentor for resume review, opportunity to job shadow, additional meeting or new connections in their network. This not only helps take your relationship to the next level but also your career aspirations.

Informational interviews are extremely beneficial to helping you gain insight on different careers, organizations and industries. They can be a 20-minute coffee date or a one-hour phone call. Regardless of how or when you meet, these interviews are critical to building your network and shaping your career path. Have any questions about setting up practice interviews? Reach out to our ASK team at ask@depaul.edu.