Work-Based Learning - Informational Interviews Activity Guide

  • Informational Interviews Fact Sheet
  • Coordinator Checklist
  • Required Documents
  • Implementation Tools

Informational Interviews Fact Sheet

What are Informational Interviews?

Using informational interviews to support learning is a structured Career Exploration activity in which students formally interview an employer partner about his or her industry, educational and career path, and chosen profession. Students may also explore the range of career opportunities within the company or industry, opportunities for growth and the salary ranges for different occupations.

Designed to meet specific learning objectives, informational interviews are educationally rich, are tied to the curriculum, and help students connect what they’re learning in school with the workplace. Unlike a guest speaker activity, where speakers usually address a group in the classroom, informational interviews are one-to-one interactions and generally take place at the company’s workplace. They may also be conducted via telephone – ideally utilizing Facetime or Skype.

Informational Interviews are designed to:

  • Provide exposure to potential careers and jobs.
  • Provide a realistic picture of the business, its role in the community and the career paths and occupations of its workforce.
  • Help students make the connection between school and the workplace.
  • Inform career planning.

Informational Interviews are structured to:

  • Offer students the chance to practice and demonstrate key professional skills,
  • including communication, critical thinking, workplace appearance and timeliness.
  • Enable students to begin identifying areas of career interest.
  • Build knowledge about the education and training needed for a particular job, career path and entry into the industry.

Informational Interviews are supported by:

  • Classroom preparation, including research on the industry and participating businesses.
  • Employer orientation and support.
  • Opportunities to reflect upon the experience verbally and in writing.

Informational Interviews are connected to:

  • Individual career development/training plans.
  • Future work-based learning activities.
  • The student’s next steps.

Informational interviews are one activity in the continuum of authentic work-based experiences provided to all students engaged in career-related programs or course of study in New York City schools.

Quick tips for Work-Based Learning Coordinators* to ensure a successful Informational Interviews

Before

  • Identify all interested teachers and help them plan for the informational interviews.
  • Address any relevant school policies that may apply (in the way that field trips may be handled).
  • Make sure the employer partners are good matches for the careers students are interested in.
  • Prepare teachers and encourage them to support the informational interviews and reflect them in their classroom activities. Share the Teacher Tip Sheet.
  • Have teachers help create learning objectives and work with students to prepare and create a list of questions to ask in the interview.
  • Create and provide appropriate support materials for distribution to employees who will participate in an interview.
  • Work with employees to help them prepare for the interview. Discuss best methods for being real with and engaging students.
  • Arrange for student transportation and other logistics.
  • Find out if safety gear is required and, if so, arrange for it to be provided.
  • Have the student call or email the staff member/company to confirm the details for the informational interview. Ideally, it should take place at the worksite.

After

  • Document the informational interview. Review feedback from interviewed employees, students and teachers and summarize results. Make recommendations for improvements.
  • Help students update their Employability Skills Profile and think about any next steps they would like to take to further their career goals.
  • Work with teachers to connect the informational interview to the classroom.
  • Send thank-you notes to employer partners.
  • Publicize the informational interviews and the companies that participated by placing a story in the local newspaper or posting on the school website or social media.
  • Suggest the students share their experiences on social media and tag the partner businesses.
  • Consider other potential public relations benefits and opportunities.

*In New York State, this includes certified work-based learning coordinators and others who facilitate, arrange and support work-based learning activities for students.

Sample Timeline

  • Beginning of the School Year: Identify interested teachers and brainstorm companies that could participate.
  • Two months in advance: Invite business partners to participate. Find out the best days and time for the employer partners.
  • One month in advance: Confirm student participation. Have students research the industry or company.
  • One week in advance: Send employers logistics for the day and questions to expect. Have students confirm the interview day and time.
  • After Informational Interviews: Send thank-you notes to all hosts and ensure student reflection activities take place.

Tips for Success

  • Engage in proper planning and preparation.
  • Address logistical details.
  • Communicate with all parties.
  • Maximize learning potential.
  • Focus on building awareness.
  • Connect to the classroom.
  • Provide support for students and supervisors.
  • Promote student reflection.