Questions to ask in an Informational Interview

Be realistic.  If you have 30 minutes of someone’s time how many questions can you get through in that time?  I would suggest somewhere between 7-10 questions – and make them good ones.    Remember your goal is to get information to help you decide if this is an industry and career you would like.  One rule of Informational Interviewing.  You are not there to ask for a job . Don’t make them uncomfortable by asking them for a job unless they suggest it first. Here are some questions you can ask.  They are designed to get the maximum amount of information in the least amount of time:

  1. Why did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
  2.  What was your career route to getting this job? What jobs and experiences have led you to your present
    position?
  3.  What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging? What do you like and not
    like about working in this industry?
  4. Of the jobs you did before this one what ones were the most useful in preparing you for this one?
  5. What sorts of changes are occurring in your occupation?
  6. How does a person progress in your field? What is a typical career path in this field or organization?
  7.  What is the best way to enter this occupation?
  8.  What are the advancement opportunities?
  9.  What courses/training have proved to be the most valuable to you in your work? What specific courses /
    training would you recommend for someone looking to enter this area of work?
  10. Do you anyone who has done one of these courses – or other courses – and would it be possible for me to
    ask them about it?
  11.  What are the skills that are most important for a position in this field?
  12.  Are there any particular “must have” experience or qualifications required before being considered for a
    job in this industry?
  13. What particular skills or talents are most essential to be effective in your job? How did you learn these
    skills?
  14.  With the information you have about my education, skills, and experience, how close a fit am I to what is
    required for working in this industry?
  15.  From your perspective, what are the problems you see working in this field?
  16.  Does your work relate to any experiences or studies you had in college?
  17.  How well did your college experience prepare you for this job?
  18. How did you prepare for this work? If you were entering this career today, would you change your
    preparation in any way to facilitate entry?
  19. What abilities or personal qualities do you believe contribute most to success in this field/job?
  20. What are the typical job titles and functions?
  21. Who else do you know who is doing similar kinds of work or uses similar skills? What other kinds of
    organizations hire people to perform the functions you do here?
  22. Do you know of other people whom I might talk to who have similar jobs?
  23. Do you have any advice for someone interested in this field/job? Are there any written materials you
    suggest I read or websites I should look at? Which trade/professional journals and organizations would
    help me learn more about this field?
  24. What kinds of experience, paid or unpaid, would you encourage for anybody pursuing a career in this
    field?
  25. Based on the positions the company has hired for recently, what is the educational/professional
    experience background of people joining the company.
  26. Being more specific what roles has the company hired for recently and what roles are other companies
    in the industry hiring for?
  27. What areas of this industry do you see having the most growth over the next 3-5 years?
  28.  How would you assess the experience I’ve had so far in terms of entering this field?
  29. [If you feel comfortable and it seems appropriate:] Would you mind taking a look at my CV to offer
    advice on how to target it towards a role in this industry?

NEXT: Planning an informational interview – How to get started. 

Hilt will help you to use Informational Interviews to create a job search action plan that gets results.  Contact us for more details.

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