Want to get insights from a professional, but not sure what to ask? Check out this list of great informational interview questions for help!
By: Elyse Villanueva | Philanthropy Administrator at Let’s Eat, Grandma
So you’ve succeeded in getting an informational interview. Great!
(If you haven’t – or don’t even know what we’re talking about – check out this blog first. Don’t worry, we’ll be here when you get back!)
You know who to contact, how to find them, and what to expect from the interview. However, coming up with good questions is half the battle.
You want the conversation to flow naturally and not to overload the professional you’re interviewing, but you also don’t draw a blank and waste this potential contact’s time.
Here are a few solid potential questions to get you thinking. As informational interviews can be conducted for a variety of reasons, we’ve organized them into subgroups based on subject matter so that you can easily find what you’re looking for.
(A Quick Note: you’ll notice that these questions are all open-ended. Remember that the goal here is to stimulate a conversation, not to get the person to just rattle off a laundry list of tips!)
Informational Interview Questions (Arranged by Purpose)
Exploring several different industries for a career change?
- “Why did you choose this field – have you always worked in it?”
- “What is the most rewarding thing about working in this industry? The most challenging?”
- “What motivates you to come to work every morning?”
Beginning your job search in a different field?
- “My background is in (insert field)—how do you think I can best leverage my previous experience for this field?”
- “What job search advice would you give to someone in my situation?”
Curious about a specific position?
- “What is a typical day (week) like for you?”
- “What are the common problems you face?”
- “How do you feel your position affects the company overall?”
- “What is your work-life balance like?”
- “What skills does this position require? What would I need to work on in order to thrive in a position like yours?”
Curious about life at a specific company?
- “How does the company’s mission affect your work?”
- “How is your relationship with management?”
- “What is the office culture like around here? Is this typical of other companies in the industry?”
- “Do you feel challenged/supported by the people around you?”
- “How does the company handle [specific accommodations like maternity leave, workers with disabilities, etc.]?”
Want to know how to get ahead in an industry?
- “What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job/this field?”
- “What do I need to know in order to land a job in this field?”
- “What do you see among candidates that commonly disqualifies people in this field?
- “Can you recommend trade journals, magazines or professional associations which would be helpful for my professional development?”
A list of great questions is a sure path to a great informational interview. Look through this list, pick 4-5 that are applicable to your situation, and go into the interview confidently. (Don’t be afraid to write your own questions and add follow-up questions on the fly, either!)
You are now officially locked and loaded with informational interview questions. Get out there and crush it!
Want to hear first-hand success stories and more tips about informational interviews? In this podcast, Mac Prichard, a seasoned career development professional, gives you everything you need to know about how to rock that informational interview!
Better yet — cut out the middle man and sign up now for a FREE phone consultation with one of our business writing experts on our homepage!