These Are the 10 Best Informational Interview Questions You Need to Ask
Published on November 1, 2017 by arothstein
If you’re in search of a new career, have you thought about getting insight from someone who’s already working in your area of interest? Informational interviews are an effective tool to learn more about jobs in a specific field—and find out what it takes to secure positions that appeal to you. Talking to industry professionals not only helps you gain valuable knowledge before you dive into your job search, but this one-on-one networking also helps you prepare for job interviews.
Here are 10 of the best informational interview questions, in no particular order, plus a little commentary on how each query can help inform you.
What jobs and educational experiences helped you prepare for this position?
People come into their positions in many ways, such as through an internship or networking. This question can help you understand someone else’s background and how it prepared them for the job they’re doing today, whether it was a specific course, an internship, or maybe even part-time work in or after high school. How can your past experiences help you?
What was the first position you had in this field, and how did you grow?
Asking this question can reveal a little more about someone’s career trajectory. This could allow you to see the big picture—you may be applying for something entry-level, but seeing how someone else moved up in their position will show you that you will have room to grow, too.
Tell me about a typical day—or maybe no two days are the same—in your current position.
Get a peek into the daily life of your interview subject. What responsibilities do they have? How do they interview with colleagues, clients, customers, and others?
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
In general, we all want to like what we do. Asking this question allows you to see what makes someone come to work each day. You likely chose this field for a specific reason, but maybe there are some other benefits and perks that come along with it that may surprise you—and will help solidify your choice.
If you’re comfortable sharing, what are some of the downsides to your job?
No matter how much we love our work, most people can usually find something that could be better. Asking this can set expectations for what some in your industry may consider the not-so-favorite parts.
Thinking about yourself and your colleagues, what attributes do you think make people the most successful in your field?
Get an idea of what qualities seem to be of value to others in your chosen career path. You can use this information to reflect on your own strengths and what you can bring to an organization.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in this industry since you started?
Most industries see some sort of evolution over time, such as new technology or new ways of doing business. Asking this question can give you an idea of how a field or specific positions have changed, also allowing you to anticipate future advances in the field.
How do you keep current on your skills and best practices?
Professional learning never ends. Ask current workers how they keep their skills sharp. This will give you an idea of how you can stay up to date in the field.
Where would you point me if I wanted to learn more about this industry, such as websites or publications?
Many industries have trade organizations and journals that could be worth following, or perhaps your interview subject may suggest a blog, book, email newsletter, or industry thought leader you could follow on social media. Learning of these resources will help you continue to learn more about your ideal field and even find job and networking opportunities.
Is there anyone else you know whom I should speak with?
It never hurts to ask for another recommendation, one that you’d not get otherwise. Part of networking is building connections. If you’re having a good conversation with your interview subject, perhaps he or she may be able to point you to someone else.
After speaking with one-on-one with a professional working in your chosen field, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect after graduation and how to approach your job search and interviews—and maybe leave even more excited to start your new career! Use their answers and wisdom to help you identify opportunities for further career exploration.
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