Job-Hunt.org Your Best Job Search Information Source

For a Shorter, Smarter Job Search

Sample Informational Interview Request Phone Scripts

By Susan P. Joyce

Calling a stranger can be intimidating, but often much more effective than an email.

Speaking with someone to request an appointment for an informational interview can be a great way to get started, particularly if you already know the person, even if you haven't spoken to each other in several years. A phone call usually makes it easier to coordinate calendars and get a sense of how interested the person is by the tone of their voice.

Be ready to do the interview in this first call! The person might want to talk immediately rather than some point in the future. So be prepared with your interview questions when you make this call.

Remember that You Are Asking for a Favor

The person may also not be available or interested in speaking with you.

Don't be dogged in your determination to set up an appointment.

If you are running into a cement wall, conclude the call with a pleasant "Thank you for your time" followed by a "Good bye."

If your timing was particularly bad, you might want to add an apology.

Do not demonstrate anger or frustration. Remain professional.

Regardless of the outcome of this first call, getting angry or nasty is not a good impression to leave. That reaction (a.k.a. "spoiled brat" or "nasty person") will be what is remembered about you.

If you are more comfortable with email, see the Sample Informational Interview Email Requests for examples.

Plan the Timing of Your Call

Calling someone on their cellphone may be risky if they are driving or engaged in something important.

If you don't know whether or not the phone number is for a cell phone, assume that it is.

Do your best not to call when someone might be driving a car to/from work or engaged in something you know is typically on their schedule (Monday morning staff meeting, business lunch, etc.).

Whenever you can, call on an official business number which is not usually a cellphone.

Do NOT call their 800 number for customers and prospects. You are neither, and that is disrespectful of their revenue as well as their time.

3 Phone Scripts

Use the scripts below as starting points and adapt them to your personality and style as well as to the people you are calling.

Find 3 sample scripts below for calling:

  1. Someone you already know.
  2. Someone you have been referred to.
  3. Someone you haven't been in touch with for a long time, or you don't know them and haven't been referred by anyone.

While this could be part of a call with a friend, be sure to be more formal and professional when you are speaking with someone you don't know.

1. Phone Script When Calling Someone You Know

When you know the person, the script can be like this:

"Hi [first name]! [If it has been a while since you've spoken with this person, add "Great to hear your voice again!"]

"This is [your name] calling. Do you have a minute to talk? I'll make this quick.

[Assuming the answer to that question is "Yes," proceed with the script.]

"I'm in the process of thinking about leaving my [current job or field], and I am very interested in [what this person does or working where they work].

"I know you've [been in that field or working for that employer] for a while, and I'd love 20 or 30 minutes of your time, at your convenience, to ask you some questions about [the topic] to determine if it's really a good fit for me.

"I known you've been in this field for a while, and I value your opinion. I'm happy come to your office or meet you at the local coffee shop (and I'll buy!). Do you have any time available in the next 2 weeks?"

If they suggest a date and time, do your best to be available then. If they want to talk immediately, start asking your questions.

If they don't want to continue, close the call by thanking them for their time and asking them if they know someone who might have the time and interest in helping you. Ask for that person's name and contact information.

Whether or not they offer another name, close the call by thanking them, and saying "Good bye" without demonstrating anger or disappointment.

2. Phone Script When Calling Someone You Have Been Referred to

Someone has been kind enough to refer you to this person. Be sure to "drop" their name at the start of the call to establish your credibility.

Take care to reflect well on the person who referred you. If you are too aggressive or rude (before, during, and after) this call, you may well be "burning (two) bridges," not just one, damaging your relationship with the person who referred you as well as the person they referred you to.

The script:

"Hello Mr./Ms. [last name]! My name is [your name], and I am/was a [current/most recent job title and employer] considering making a change in my career to [whatever you are calling about].

[Name of person who referred you] suggested that you would be an excellent person to talk with about [the field or job, and don't fib about this either -- too easy to verify].

"Do you have a minute to talk? [Assuming the answer is "Yes" continue. NOTE: If they answer "No," ask if there is a better time to call back, and end the call courteously and quickly. If they suggest a time, make note of it, and call back at that date and time. If they don't offer another time to talk, end the call courteously, and do NOT call them back.]

"I'm in the process of thinking about leaving my [current job or field], and I am very interested in your views about [what they do or working where they work].

" I'd love 20 or 30 minutes of your time, at your convenience, to ask you some questions about [the topic].

" I value your opinion, and I'm happy come to your office or meet you at the local coffee shop (and I'll buy!). Do you have any time available in the next 2 weeks?"

3. Phone Script When Calling Someone You Don't Know

For this call, even if you knew the person in the distant past, you need to briefly introduce yourself, and then mention something important and public about them, showing that you know who they are, before asking them for the interview. Like this:

"Hello Mr./Ms. [last name]! My name is [your name], and I am/was a [current/most recent job title and employer] considering making a big change in my career.

I am very impressed with your [be detailed and specific: website, article, book, speech, quote in The New York Times, tweet, etc. Don't fib -- be prepared to answer why you are impressed and/or what impressed you].

"Do you have a minute to talk? [Assuming the answer is "Yes" continue. If the answer is "No," follow the advice from # 2 above.]

"I'm in the process of thinking about leaving my [current job or field], and I am very interested in your views about [what they do or working where they work].

" I'd love 20 or 30 minutes of your time, at your convenience, to ask you some questions about [the topic].

" I value your opinion, and I'm happy come to your office or meet you at the local coffee shop (and I'll buy!). Do you have any time available in the next 2 weeks?"

If they don't want to talk with you, accept that decision without sounding angry or disappointed. If they sound nice but too busy, ask them if they would be comfortable recommending someone else for you to talk with.

On the other hand, if they agree to speak with you, do your best to be available at the date and time they specify, and, of course, be prepared with your questions if they want to talk NOW.

More About Informational Interviews:


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.


Receive Job-Hunt's Weekly Newsletter
No spam! See our Privacy Policy.


Guide to Effective Informational Interviews:

How to Conduct Effective Informational Interviews:


Advertisement

 


Find Jobs in all states
Jobs across the state - not available elsewhere on the Web. Only here.
CareerCast.com

Over 50? Want work?
Real employers who value your experience are looking for you here.
SeniorJobBank.org