Resources: Links for ESL Teachers About Informational Interviews

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

~Vidal Sassoon (1928-2012), British hairstylist and businessman


Late last year, we published a blog post on mock job interviews and self-evaluation. In connection to that, here are some helpful links we’ve found in the past for teachers and students alike to encourage networking and a better sense of self.



Informational interviews have become a common practice among American professionals, but many English language learners remain unfamiliar with this type of networking and job search activity. ESL teachers can create both compelling classroom assignments and provide opportunities for ESL students to explore their career options by including informational interviews in their courses.

As readers of this blog know, I have given several presentations at CATESOL conferences on “Informational Interviews: A Practical, Multi-skill Activity for High Intermediate and Advanced ESL Students.” Based on my years of experience of teaching both undergraduate native speakers and international graduate students at the University of Southern California, I’ve found that practicing informational interviews as an oral assignment can lead to an entire month of engaging, demanding, and career-focused lessons for advanced ESL students. Students expand their vocabulary, write questions, conduct an off-campus interview with a working professional in a field of interest, and share the career advice they collected in a short presentation. It’s a challenging, satisfying, and popular assignment in my oral skills classes.

Many American universities can count on alumni to help their students in their job search, and granting an informational interview is a relatively easy way to contribute. Many American professional organizations also encourage their members to both assist and recruit students into the field. It may be difficult in many cultures for a younger person with less status to directly contact an older professional to seek career advice.

Informational interviews can also be used with high school students as they begin to focus on their career ambitions. Here is a short list of additional links that I’ve curated on the subject. The links are loosely organized from the most general sites that explain the concept to general audiences in simple English to professional documents for more specialized, often graduate-school audiences. Adult and community college ESL programs would probably find the earlier links more helpful than the later ones. As ever, use or lose.

Quintessential Careers emphasizes the importance of informational interviews in short, clear, and informative articles. High intermediate and advanced ESL students should be able to handle the vocabulary.



University of Notre Dame Informational Interviewing – This six-page guide provides excellent step by step instructions for students needing assistance with locating individuals, asking interview questions, writing thank you notes, and professionally networking.


Finally, here’s a 13-slide PowerPoint presentation titled “Networking and Informational Interviewing: Nuts and Bolts” by Scott Turner from USC Marshall School of Business, one of the world’s top MBA schools. Although I’m biased as a USC instructor, I think this presentation captures the practical possibilities of information interviewing. Many Marshall instructors advise MBA students that they should always be networking and conducting informational interviews during their graduate studies.

Given the difficult economic climate in many countries, I would suggest that it behooves more ESL and EFL teachers and tutors to consider adding informational interviews to their oral skills courses for their high-intermediate and advanced students. Do you have any further resources? Let us know!

For more related content, check out Chapter 12: Practicing Job Interviews from Compelling American conversations, featuring expanded materials from the Teacher Edition!

Ask more. Know more. Share more.

Create Compelling Conversations.


  1. Anna Jones

    All links which you provide us really useful. Thanks for sharing us. I read your content as well and i am really impressed. Thanks

  2. Thank you for appreciating the resources. Informational interviews remain a powerful, if often under-appreciated method, of expanding social networks and developing professional skills. International English students – whether planning to study in the United States, the United Kingdom, or staying at home – should be able to benefit from the resources.

  3. Thanks Anna – During this difficult economic time, helping people deepen and strengthen their job interview skills is also a very useful and valuable service. Your site contains many valuable questions for job seekers.

  4. Thank you for your kind words. Informational interviews, especially during a deep recession that feels like a real depression to millions, remains a valuable job search tool. We can all benefit – especially as writers and teachers – from meeting, discussing, and learning from our more experienced peers.


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