This is the third post in a series on informational interviewing for beginners. Catch up with Part 1: What is an informational interview? and Part 2: Finding people for informational interviews

Wondering how to request an informational interview once you have a contact in mind? I looked through plenty of sample informational interview request emails online when I was starting this process, decided that many of them were stuffy and outdated, but took away a few key pieces of advice:

–       Mention any connections you have with the person and how you got their contact email in the subject line and/or first lines of the message

–       Give a little background on who you are and why you are interested in talking with this person

–       Ask if they might have some time to meet, mention general time windows when you’re available, but leave the schedule decision up to them

–       Keep it brief

I tend to be fairly formal in the first email and let the tone of the response dictate the style of my next communication. I don’t usually send a resume with the initial email, but I will sometimes attach it to follow up scheduling emails and say something like “I’ve attached my resume in case you’d like a better picture of my experience before we talk.”

I used to spend a lot of time writing and re-writing these emails (ok, confession, I still spend a lot of time on them) but I remind myself that the worst case is that I get no response, and that happens only rarely.

Here’s an example of how I might request an informational interview with the fictional Dr. Quinn (she of the Medicine Woman fame. She’s basically a rural public health worker, right?):

Subject: Connection with Dr. Ross

Hello Dr. Quinn,

I recently spoke with Dr. Ross, a family friend, and he gave me your name and contact information. I am currently a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Washington and I am starting to explore career options. My experience as a clinic volunteer in college drew me to public health and I would be very interested in learning more about your experience as a health advisor in a rural setting.  Please let me know if you might have time to speak with me in the next couple of weeks.  I have a flexible schedule so please tell me when would be convenient for you or if you’d prefer to speak on the phone.

Thank you,

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So you scheduled an informational interview….now what? See a list of questions to ask at your informational interview and  Top 10 tips for a great informational interview