How to Schedule an Informational Interview
Crafting an effective email is a work of art.
The Goal: Ask for an informational interview with a succinct, professional email.
1. The Subject Line
Begin with a clear subject line indicating your intent. Most business people are inundated with email, and will appreciate knowing what to expect when they open your letter. If your subject line is ambiguous (e.g. Hi), your email may not be opened at all.
2. The Greeting
If this is your first communication with the recipient, address them in a semi-formal manner using the salutation “Dear” coupled with their first name. While the US leans toward a more informal business style, establishing initial contact should be professional.
Briefly introduce yourself, and get straight to the point.
3. The Ask
Tell them your name, how you found them and why you are interested in speaking to them. This appeals to the American transactional orientation.
Propose two 30 minute increments that are convenient for you to talk. Ask if either of those times works for the recipient, and ask for the best number to reach them.
4. The Close
Thank them for their time, and sign off with a warm closing, including a detailed signature.
5. The Example
Subject: Current student seeking informational interview
My name is Olivia Adler. I am currently a first year student at (insert school name here), and found your name in the alumni database.
In my Operations class, we just completed the HBS case on Best Company Ever. It was fascinating to learn how you built your business into one of the top customer service organizations in the world. I would love to learn more about your role at Best Company Ever, and would greatly appreciate one-half hour of your time.
Would you be available either Monday, Dec 8 from 10:00am – 10:30am ET or Wednesday, Dec 10 from 2:30pm – 3:00pm ET? Please let me know if either of those times works for you, and, if so, the best number to reach you.
Thank you for your time.
All the best,
MBA Candidate 2010, School
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2011 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.