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The Rule of 3s for Informational Interviews

Posted on May 16, 2018
Ted background with a large 3 surrounded by the words: informational interview in one corner and steps, goals, and musts on the other side with the Drexel Dragon below.

While an informational interview could lead to a job interview, the intent, as the term implies, is to gather information. I like to apply the rule of threes to informational interviews. There are three steps, three goals, and three post-interview musts. Let’s look at each aspect in more detail.

Three Steps:

  • Step 1: Do your research – make sure you know whom you are interviewing and something about the industry and their position, so you can ask relevant questions. Craft between six and eight questions.
  • Step 2: Dress accordingly – if you are meeting with someone in a bank or traditional field, dress as if you work there – likely a suit. If you are meeting with someone in a field where the dress code is much more casual, say jeans – don’t wear jeans. Wear causal pants and a button-down or polo shirt. Showing up in jeans and an old t-shirt, even if that’s what the employees wear, would be as inappropriate as showing up in a suit.
  • Step 3: Engage in an active discussion. Come prepared with questions and actively listen to responses, asking follow-up questions as necessary.

Three Goals:

  • Goal 1: Gather information about the industry, role, etc. to help you make career decisions.
  • Goal 2: Be prepared with follow-up questions and don’t miss opportunities for follow-up questions when those moments arise.
  • Goal 3: My colleague, Lisa Bogan, Assistant Dean to the office of Engagement & Communication at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business recommends getting the name of someone else in the field you can contact – i.e. grow your network.

Three Musts:

  • Must 1: Follow-up with a thank you. Briefly explain how much you got out of the interview.
  • Must 2: If you were to follow-up with information, do so (it is fine to do it in your thank you email).
  • Must 3: If someone else connected you with the person you interviewed, send them a thank you email as well.

If you remember the rule of threes, you will not only get the most out of your informational interview, but you will also be viewed as a professional. It is important to remember that every connection may be THE connection. You don’t want to be passed up for an opportunity because you showed up ill-prepared or you neglected to say thank you.


Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department Head, Graduate Studies
Goodwin College
Drexel University
Posted in professional-development-career-tips