15 Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview

By: Lara Greenberg

What most college students don’t realize is the power of the informational interview. Informational interviews are not necessarily geared toward acquiring a particular position but they can be a beneficial learning experience, help students in picking a major, set career goals or gain experience when talking to executives. While it can be quite frightening to initiate an informational interview, you never know what results it can yield. In order to make these interviews a little less scary, be sure that you are prepared. Dress to impress, bring a hard copy of your resume and a notepad and bring a list of questions to guide the conversation. Pay careful attention to what is said by the person you interview with and ask questions if something isn’t clear. You will find that people are often happy to discuss their positions and willing to provide you with an abundance of information. Here are some prospective questions to ask during your informational interview:

  1. Why did this type of work interest you, and how did you get started?
  1. How did you get your job? What jobs and experiences have led you to your present position?
  1. What does a typical day look like for you?
  1. How does your company differ from its competitors?
  2. How has your job affected your lifestyle?
  1. What kinds of challenges do you encounter?
  2. What is the one thing you spend the most time on?
  1. How well did your college experience prepare you for this job?
  2. What are the typical entry-level job titles and functions? What entry-level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
  1. Where do you think the field is headed?
  1. How do you think graduation from a private or public university is viewed when it comes to hiring?
  2. How important are grades/GPA for obtaining a job in this field?
  3. What are the major rewards aside from extrinsic rewards such as money, fringe benefits, travel, etc.?
  4. Is there anyone else you suggest I talk to knowing my interests and skills?
  1. Is there any last advice you can offer me?

Here are a few additional tips when organizing for an informational interview:

Manage Your Time

Usually, informational interviews are brief, so concentrate on what questions you want to get answered. You could even highlight or place a star next to any important questions so you can find them easily when time starts to dwindle.

Follow Up

After the interview, verbally thank the interviewee. A thank you note should be sent within 24 hours of meeting your new contact. Be sure to keep in touch from time to time.

Remember, be professional, be confident and be yourself. As always, I welcome any comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

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