Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Lea A. Hubbard, PhD, Chair; Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Member; Helen Eckmann, EdD, Member


college business students, co-membership, hidden job market, higher education, informational interviews, internships, networking, Leadership studies, qualitative, professionals


A growing body of literature suggests that networking promotes not only learning about one's field of interest but also employment opportunities, without requiring a formal job search. Considering three-fourths of job openings are never advertised (Koss-Feder, 1999), it appears networking is a powerful strategy in successful job attainment. This study focuses on a less-than-obvious networking strategy, the informational interview. An informational interview is an interview with a professional that is conducted by a student or job seeker with the intention of finding out more about the professional's occupation or career field. In this study, informational interviews were examined, not only as a way of gaining knowledge about organizational roles (their articulated purpose), but also as a potential source of employment or internship offer. Although the business community is somewhat familiar with the practice of informational interviewing, a thorough search of scholarly business journals and databases sheds very little empirical knowledge on the subject. This qualitative study focuses on the successful experiences of eight college business students who were offered internships by a professional as a result of an informational interview. The outcomes were striking and provoked the following research questions: 1) According to students and professionals, what interactional and structural conditions in the informational interview context fostered an internship offer? 2) How did the characteristics of the informational interview context differ from the characteristics of a formal interview context? This study suggests that informational interviews are much more than a networking tool. They provide a strategy to secure internships. By examining the interplay between the structure of the interview and the interactions that ensued, this study shows how conditions were created that led to a deep understanding between the professionals and students. This deep understanding contributed to a sense of co-membership between participants and fostered the willingness on the part of the professional to extend an internship offer. This study shows that because informational interviews address many of the limitations of formal job interviews, they appear to provide a better way for professionals to know a job candidate and assess job "fit."

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies