Informational interviewing

Your goal for conducting informational interviews with several health professionals–in different specialties and at different stages in their career–is to gain a better understanding of what it might be like to be in that particular field of health care. These interviews may occur over the phone or in person depending on the specific circumstances.

You can identify health professionals to interview by starting asking yourself: Who do I know? Think widely in terms of professional and personal relations, friends of friends, members of your congregation, neighbors, and of course, UM Alumni and the UM Health System.  Professional associations directories and even the phone book can also be great sources for identifying practitioners in your field of interest.

Once you have determined who you would like to contact, call/e-mail that individual and explain that you are interested in conducting an informational interview so that you can gain some insights into their career. Make arrangements for a meeting or phone appointment. Give some thought in advance to the questions you want to ask. Be punctual, stick to the length of time you agreed upon and remember to send a thank you note afterward. Here are some questions you may wish to ask. Please add your own as well:

  • How, when, and why did you decide to become a physician/dentist/optometrist/pharmacist/etc.?
  • Where did you go to medical/dental/optometry/pharmacy, etc. school?
  • What is a typical day for you like?
  • What do you find most rewarding about being a physician/dentist/optometrist/pharmacist/etc.? Most challenging?
  • How have you been able to balance the demands of your profession with your personal life?
  • What skills and personal traits are most important to become a good physician/dentist/optometrist/pharmacist/etc.?
  • What advice do you have for me as I prepare for a career in medicine/dentistry/optometry/pharmacy, etc.?
  • What types of experiences, employment, volunteering, etc. would you most strongly recommend?
  • Can you think of some other colleague(s) who might be willing to talk to me as well?
  • Would it be possible to shadow you sometime to gain a better understanding of what you do?