Informational Interviews: Etiquette
Keep in mind the following when you are reaching out to contacts be it through the Berkeley Career Network, LinkedIn, a personal referral, or other means:
In selecting a person to meet with, be clear on your objective for the meeting and when you reach out to them, be sure to communicate it clearly. Introduce yourself as a Cal student or recent graduate who is interested in talking with them about their perspectives or giving you information about a particular career field or career topic.. Remember, the purpose of an informational interview is to get information, not ask for a job.
Use it wisely by doing your homework about the networker's organization, preparing questions in advance, and being mindful of the clock once your meeting has begun. Typically, an informational interview lasts about 20 minutes; respect your contact's time by mentioning a time limit in advance and then honoring it within the meeting. If you have asked for 20 minutes in your request, be sure to stay within that timeframe.
Generally, neat business casual is appropriate attire if you are going to meet with an alum at his or her workplace. Suits, sports coat with a tie, skirts, pantsuits are all acceptable. However, some work environments are more formal, while others are more relaxed. Generally, consulting, finance and accounting offices may be more formal and tech, nonprofit and other organizations a little less so. You can refer to our Interview Attire page for examples.
Respect networkers' communications with you and reflect on the appropriateness of disclosing the information to others.
Express your appreciation for their time through a thank you note sent via email or postal mail.
If appropriate, periodically inform your contact about your progress, especially if their advice or direction was helpful.
If you have a resume, you may want to provide a copy as background information for the career networkers before you meet them.