Talking to people is one of the best ways to explore career options. If you are reaching out to someone new, you might want to conduct an informational interview. Informational interviews are short, targeted career discussions where you ask for information and advice. Generally, they last between 15-25 minutes.
The focus of an informational interview is to learn, not ask for a job. In job search, it is easy to make decisions based on inaccurate information. Informational interviews provide relevant, timely information on job duties, company culture, industry norms, and career paths. Additionally, informational interviews are an effective way to network and build relationships!
When I started using informational interviews in my job search, I felt intimidated!
Who would be willing to talk to me?
Would it be awkward?
Over the years, I have conducted many informational interviews. I still get nervous to ask for help, but I have been amazed by the kindness and generosity of the people I have talked to! Yes, sometimes it can be a bit awkward. But often my natural curiosity often overrides my feelings of anxiety or discomfort. And most times, I end up really enjoying the conversation!
You should prepare at least 5 - 7 questions before your meeting. The questions you ask depend on what is important to you. Stay away from asking questions about salary, sick leave or benefits.
Here are 22 of my favorite informational interview questions.
About the Work
1. What is a typical day for you?
2. What interested you in working for this company initially?
3. What are some of your primary job duties?
4. What are the educational qualifications for this job?
5. What kinds of problems do you deal with regularly?
About the Company
6. What do you like best about working for this company?
7. How would you describe the company culture?
8. How long do people typically stay working for this company?
9. What personality traits or aptitudes does your company value?
10. What is a typical career path for someone in your position?
11. What priorities do you see the company focusing on in the next 3 – 5 years?
12. What sort of training does the company provide to its employees?
13. Is there a professional association that most people in your organization belong to?
14. What would be a typical entry-level position in this company?
About the Industry
15. What advice do you have for someone who is looking to enter the industry?
16. What type of training or education would you recommend if I were to enter the industry?
17. Do you see this field/ industry expanding? What are some growth areas?
18. I am currently trying to find my career fit. I have a background/ experience/ education in (pick a few key points). Are there any jobs in your company or in the industry where I could potentially use those skills?
19. Would you be willing to take a quick look at my resume and give me a few pointers on how I can improve it?
20. What are some practical ways that I could build up my experience in this field without going back to school?
21. Are there any events, conferences, or workshops that you would recommend that I attend?
22. Is there anyone else that you would recommend that I talk to?
A key piece of advice is to mind the time! It is your responsibility to ensure that you stay within the timeframe you committed to. After the meeting, send a "thank you" email or card which outlines specific information you found helpful.
If you haven’t incorporated information interviews in your job search yet, start today! It is well-worth it!
Do you want to elevate your job search? If so, consider working with Career Story to improve your resume, interview skills or networking strategy! We help job seekers find work quickly! Connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org