Requesting an information interview

1. Fewer than 100 words

Keep it brief - include a line in the email letting them know you’re an SFU student or alumni, but they don’t need your life story! They should be able to view your entire email in a smartphone screen without scrolling.

2. No mention of jobs anywhere 

Your email is not about requesting a job, as this can be off-putting to an employer and result in rejection. The request is about having a conversation to gain insights into a career path - you are looking for their advice and insights.

3. Connection goes first

Identify your connection to the person - maybe you found them on LinkedIn, they are an alumni of SFU, you belong to the same industry association or you read an article they wrote.

4. Generalize your interest

It can be a good idea to express broad interest in their occupation or industry, rather than only jobs at their company. For example, saying you’re interested in ‘marketing careers at technology companies in BC’, rather than ‘marketing careers at their organization’ allows them to still help you even if they know their organization won’t be hiring anytime soon. They may also be more likely to provide referrals.

5. Maintain control of follow up

Recognize that this person may be very busy, but you are happy to work around their schedule - this shows you value their time. If they don’t respond, it’s a good idea to gently follow up with a reminder email to show your commitment. But only follow up once, and if you still don’t hear back, don't take it personally, there are always other people you can connect with. 

6. How to follow up 

If your contact responds within the first couple days, schedule a time for an information interview. However, if there is no response, Steve Dalton’s 3B7 Routine from "2-Hour Job Search" can help you determine when to give up and move on to the next employer. The 3B7 Routine is a tracking system:  the “3” and “7” refer to the number of "B" business days.

  • After you send your initial email set two reminders - for 3 and 7 days
  • If you haven’t received a response after 3 days move on to the next employer on your list
  • The 7 day reminder alerts you to follow up with your contact

The 3B7 Routine can help you stay on top of your job search by identifying those who are genuinely interested in helping you out (known as “Boosters”), and those you need to drop because they either never respond or just put off a time to meet you because they are uncomfortable saying "No". Focus your time and energy on the Boosters, and your time will be well spent!