Before you request and schedule an informational interview, familiarize yourself with the person you’ll be interviewing, their job, the company, and the industry. You don’t want to waste someone’s time asking them questions that could be answered with a simple Google search.
When you have the opportunity to ask questions of someone who has the job you want, make sure you are making the most of the time you have. You may only have a half-hour and enough time to ask a handful of questions. Make sure you know how much time the person is devoting to your meeting, so you can be respectful of that time!
To maximize the time you have, prepare a list of questions to ask in the interview. The number of questions you are ultimately able to ask will depend on the amount of time you have, so once you’ve listed your questions, rank them in the order of importance to you.
Below is a list of possible questions you may want to ask:
About the Job Specifically:
- What skills are most important to perform the job?
- What is a typical day like in this job?
- How much does this type of job pay? (A range? At this company specifically?)
- What is the most important function someone in this job performs?
- What do you wish you would have known before you took this job?
- What is the worst part of this job? (And how often does it happen?)
About the Company:
- How would you describe this company’s culture?
- How does this company advertise job openings, or find job candidates?
- What does the company look for in candidates applying for this type of job?
- What kind of turnover exists for these jobs in this company? Why do people generally leave the company?
- What are the company’s policies about vacation time, employee benefits, paying for continuing education, etc?
About Preparing to Work in This Industry:
- How do people generally get started in this field?
- What kind of training or educational preparation is needed for this job or career? What courses best prepared you for success in this job?
- Are there any degrees or certifications that are required for this job?
- Will my education prepare me for a job in this field — if not, what kind of additional experiences should I be seeking out?
- Are there any professional or trade organizations I should join?
- What kind of work history or experience would best prepare someone to do this job?
- What is the best way to break into this industry?
- What advice would you give to someone considering a job as a ___?
- Are there any specific places to look for job postings for jobs like this?
- What has been the most surprising or interesting thing you’ve learned in your career?
- What are some related jobs/job titles?
- How can I best prepare myself to be successful in this job/in this industry/with this company?
About the Future/Opportunities for Advancement:
- What are the prospects for employment in this field? What kind of job opportunities exist with this company, or in this industry?
- What are the opportunities for advancement in this field? Is this industry growing or shrinking?
- What is the typical career path in the industry?
- How do you see the industry changing in the next 5-10 years?
About Next Steps:
- If you were in my shoes, with an interest in ___, what steps would you be taking?
- Can you suggest someone else I should talk to? Can I use your name as an introduction to that person?
- Is it okay with you if I reach out to you again if I have additional questions?
- Can you suggest any other companies that I should look into?
- Is there anything I can do to help you, since you were so kind as to meet with me?
Note: This blog post only touches on certain aspects of this topic and is not a comprehensive list. This blog post is an educational and informational resource for job seekers and is not a substitute for working with a resume writer or other professional. See our Terms and Conditions for additional information.