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interview request emails online when I was starting this process, decided that many of them were stuffy and outdated, but took away a few key pieces of advice: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,


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