I’m frequently asked whether it’s ok to conduct an informational interview by phone. It’s always best to have a face to face meeting; that’s what’s going to help you build a relationship with someone. But if you can’t secure one (and often times it’s just not practical to meet someone in person), then a phone call is fine. Just know that you’ll probably need to put in a little extra work to be remembered. And keep in mind that being remembered is most easily accomplished by being helpful. Spend some time during your phone call trying to understand what the person you’re connecting with might need.
Keep in mind as well, that what will help you be remembered is selecting the right people to connect with. When planning an informational interview, do some research in the beginning to target people who are likely to respond well to your outreach and your interest in connecting. Generally speaking, people who are in your professional field – or field of interest – are going to be easier to connect with. The best place to start is with your alumni database and former international students who may have also been in a US job search. Sometimes after my book presentations, students will come up to me and ask for an informational interview. Unless they’re interested in writing a book, selling recruitment services or education media (which are my lines of work at the moment), an informational interview with me isn’t going to be the best use of their time – and I tell them so.
As I explain in my book, the best path to finding an H-1B visa, is through building connections. If you’re able to connect with someone in your field, and the only way to do it is by phone, definitely make the call!