Best 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.

Some sample questions – designed to get the maximum amount of information in the least amount of time:

  1. What interested you in this type of work?
  2. How did you get started in this type of work?  Remember that people love talking about themselves so use that to your advantage!
  3. What ways have other people you know got started in this type of work, either in your company or other companies?
  4. If your company has hired people recently – what was their background?
  5. What particular skills or talents are most essential to be effective in your job? How did you learn these skills?
  6. What do you like about working in this job/industry.  What don’t you like?
  7. Are there any trade/professional journals, publications, websites and professional organisations you would recommend that would help me learn more about this industry?
  8. What kind of work experience, paid or unpaid, would you recommend for someone trying to break into this industry
  9. Do you know of anyone else I could speak to?  Maybe someone who started in this industry recently?

10.  Would you mind taking a quick look (although I know from experience there is no such thing as a quick look!) at my CV?

11. Thanks for your time – is there anything I can do to help you?   This shows you are proactive and appreciate the time they have spent with you.

Sinead provides coaching on all aspects of career management including how to plan and organise Informational Interviews.  Contact her for a free initial consultation.

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