Monday, January 25, 2010

Lessons Learned: Informational Interviews

For the first edition of Lessons Learned, I’d like to take this opportunity to follow up with you on my informational interviews. Over my Christmas break, I met with eight companies. While the preparation (see “Preparing for an informational interview” post below) may be extensive, the return on your investment is huge.

Here are some general questions and ones that are specific to an agency or corporate meeting.

General Questions:

How did you get started in public relations?
• What does a typical day look like for you?
• What sort of projects are you currently working on?
• What are the greatest joys and challenges about your job?
• What do you wish you would have known when you were a college senior?
• Do you have any suggestions as to how I could improve my portfolio? This obviously follows the presentation of your portfolio.
• Is there anyone else that you think would be beneficial for me to meet with? If you’re given names and contact information, ask, “May I tell them that you referred me?

For agency:
• What are some trends that you see changing the industry? The obvious answer will be Social Media, so be prepared to have an in depth conversation about this.
• I read through ----- case and was really impressed by what you were able to do for them. What made that campaign so successful? Look up their clients and read through case studies. Have follow-up questions prepared.

For corporate:
• Do the executives of this company believe and really invest in public relations?
• How many people work in your department? How has that changed over the years you’ve been here? This will provide some insight into how they’re doing as a result from the recession.
• How has incorporating social media into your PR changed your conversation with key publics?
• How do “soon-to-be college graduates” like me get started in an industry like this?

One of the main things I learned from informational interviews is that the quality of the questions you ask is important for your education on the industry and the person you’re meeting with. It also often directly correlates to the amount to which you will impress the person you’re meeting with. I found certain questions provided great insight. Who you’re meeting with should greatly shape your questions.

Remember to stay curious. Listen carefully and ask follow-up questions.


  1. These are great! Thanks Kristina!

  2. Oh good! So glad you found them to be helpful!