Informational interviews help undergraduate students at the mid-point of non-vocational STEM degrees confirm their career aspirations



Higher education institutions are expected to produce career-ready graduates who are equipped for the challenges of the 21st century. Employability experts argue that this can be achieved by integrating career development learning (CDL) into the curriculum. The informational interview helps students learn more about a career by interviewing a professional working in a field of interest, and helps students to make decisions regarding their career plans. The aims of the study were to determine students’: 1) preferred career paths and career identity at the midpoint of their non-vocational degree; 2) experiences and perceptions of an informational interview module. An informational interview module was embedded into a second-year human biosciences subject taken by students in undergraduate non-specialist health-related STEM degrees. Students indicated their preferred career, learned about informational interviews, and conducted an interview with a professional working in the field they wished to enter. After the interview, students completed reflection activities, responding to open-ended and Likert-scale questions. 91 student reflections were analysed to determine students’ career identity, and their experiences and perceptions of the module. Descriptive statistical analysis was conducted on Likert-scale answers and inductive thematic analysis was conducted on open-ended answers. Students’ career preferences were wide-ranging, with allied health the most popular. Career identity was reasonably well established in this cohort. The student experience was overall positive, and students’ thought the module was useful in supporting their career planning and career development. In conclusion, an informational interview assignment is an effective career development tool for human biosciences students.


Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

Bridgstock, R. (2009). The graduate attributes we’ve overlooked: Enhancing graduate employability through career management skills. Higher Education Research & Development, 28(1), 31–44.

Bridgstock, R. (2016). Graduate employability 2.0: Social networks for learning, career development and innovation in the digital age. Paper for discussion. Retrieved from: content/uploads/dlm_uploads/2016/09/Graduate-employability-2-0-discussion-paper.pdf

Bridgstock, R., Grant-Iramu, M., & McAlpine, A. (2019). Integrating Career Development Learning into the Curriculum: Collaboration with the Careers Service for Employability. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 10(1), 56–72.

Bruno, B. (Producer). (2017). Informational Interviewing. Retrieved from

Choate, J., & Long, H. (2019). Why do science students study physiology? Career priorities of 21st century physiology undergraduates. HAPS Educator, 23(1), 53–-63.

Creswell, J. W., Plano Clark, V., Gutmann, M. L., & Hanson, W. E. (2003). An expanded typology for classifying mixed methods research into designs. In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie, Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research, (209-240). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Crosby, O. (2010). Informational Interviewing: Get the inside scoop on careers. Occupational Outlook Quarterly, 54(2), 22–29.

Decarie, C. (2010). Literacy and informational interviews. Business Communication Quarterly, 73(3), 306–317.

Department of Education, Skills and Employment. (2020). National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund (NPILF. Retrieved from

Fugate, M., Kinicki, A. J., & Ashforth, B. E. (2004). Employability: A psycho-social construct, its dimensions, and applications. Journal of Vocational behavior, 65(1), 14–38.

Lieb, S., & Goodlad, J. (2005). Principles of adult learning. In: Best practice resources. Retrieved from:

Lindsey, J. S., & Barker, C. (n.d.). Focus on informational interviews. Retrieved from

Lock, E., & Kelly, K. (2020). Ignorance is risk: An exploratory investigation of students’ perceptions of their education–employment pathways. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 11(1), 22–36.

Lun, M. W. A. (2020). Informational interview: Broadening helping field professional students’ perception of employment opportunities in the real world. Journal of Social Service Research, 46(1), 124–132.

Mackey, D. A., & Courtright, K. E. (2012). Connecting academic criminal justice to the practitioner perspective: The efficacy of the professional interview. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 23(4), 536–549.

McMahon, M., Patton, W., & Tatham, P. (2003). Managing life, learning and work in the 21st century: Issues informing the design of an Australian Blueprint for Career Development. MilesMorgan Australia. Retrieved from:

Meijers, F. (1998). The development of a career identity. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 20(3), 191–207.

Mulvaney, M. K. (2003). The information interview: Bridging college and beyond. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 66(3), 66–70.

Oliver, B. (2015). Redefining graduate employability and work-integrated learning: Proposals for effective higher education in disrupted economies. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 6(1), 56–65.

Plakhotnik, M. S. (2017). Using the informational interview to get an insight into the profession of a manager. The International Journal of Management Education, 15(2), 1–10.

Steele, K. J., VanRyn, V. S., Stanescu, C. I., Rogers, J., & Wehrwein, E. A. (2020). Start with the end in mind: using student career aspirations and employment data to inform curriculum design for physiology undergraduate degree programs. Advances in Physiological Education, 44(4):697–701.

Teller, E. (2017). Teaching the importance of networking by conducting informational interviews. Journal of the Academy of Business Education, 18.

Tomlinson, M. (2017). Forms of graduate capital and their relationship to graduate employability. Education+ Training, 59(4), 338–352.




How to Cite

Lexis, L. ., Thomas, J. ., Taylor, C. J. ., Church, J. E. ., & Julien, B. (2021). Informational interviews help undergraduate students at the mid-point of non-vocational STEM degrees confirm their career aspirations. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 12(2), 299–315. Retrieved from