Once you receive positive responses from your initial outreach, you should request a time to speak/meet with your contact. This conversation is often called an "informational interview."
What is an Informational Interview?
Informational interviewing is not interviewing for a job. It is a method of exploring career options and discovering opportunities that are not publicly advertised. Especially when speaking with lawyers you don’t personally know, an informational interview is a great way to make contact, ask the questions you really want answered, and draw upon someone else's experiences and personal contacts.
How to Conduct the Interview & Sample Questions
When arranging an informational interview, remember that you are the interviewer. Thus, the burden is on you to request and arrange the meeting and to plan the questions/topics of conversation.
If you are meeting in person, dress as you would for a job interview (but remember, you are asking for advice, not a job). Be prompt. Observe as well as listen. Be prepared with open ended questions such as:
You are in the “driver's seat” in this interview, so you need to keep the conversation going and be ready with the next question. As the interview proceeds, you may find that you need to re-focus, if the interviewer does not want to go in the direction in which you would like to go. Also, if this meeting becomes a job interview, you may have to switch gears and field more traditional interview questions. So, make sure to bring a copy of your resume, if you didn’t send it initially, and practice answering typical job interview questions before the meeting.
Be sure to send a thank you letter as promptly as possible. See our sample informational interview thank you letter (pdf) for ideas. Also, once you've left the meeting, be sure to make notes of your conversation. This will help you write your thank you letter and will give you topics to refer to when you speak again. Keep in touch with your contact through quick notes or emails to let them know of new achievements or your job search progress. After working so hard to build your network, you need to give it a little attention every once in a while to ensure that it remains healthy.