Suggested Informational Questions
A typical informational interview may last only 15-30 minutes, and usually no longer than an hour, so you may not be able to cover all of the questions listed here. Prioritize your list so you are able to ask the ones you consider most helpful in determining whether a given career might be right for you:
- What do you do during a typical work day/week? What do you spend most of your time doing?
- What skills are most essential for effectiveness in this job? What are the most important parts of the job?
- What are the most difficult or challenging elements to the job? What are the toughest problems you must deal with?
- What are the most rewarding aspects of the job? What do you enjoy least? Does the job have a high burn-out rate?
- What are the people like who usually excel in this career field? What personal qualities does one need to succeed?
- What credentials, educational degrees, licenses, etc. are required for entry into this career field?
- What kinds of prior experiences are absolutely essential? Do I need to have related experience in order to get hired for an entry-level position?
- How does one go about getting experience in this field before and/or after college graduation? How much do employers value internships? volunteer work? summer jobs? unrelated work experience?
If you were to hire someone to work with you today, which of the following factors would be most important in your hiring decision and why? Are these the only factors you look for on a resume or in an interview?
- Specific major or degree level
- Specific skills
- Past work experience
- Applicant’s knowledge of your organization, department, job, etc.
- Personality, personal attributes
Supply & Demand:
- What types of employers hire people for your line of work? What type of industries are they in? Where are they located?
- How do people find out about these jobs? Are they advertised? If so, where? Besides advertisements/postings, how else does one hear about openings? What professional associations are there for this career field? Do you belong to any?
- How does one advance in this field? Is relocation to another state or company necessary? What is the turnover rate like?
- How much do salaries vary in your work by employer, geographic region or industry? What is the salary range for a person with my background?
- Do many people in your line of work accept positions abroad? Is this considered a good career move?
- What kind of non-salary benefits are common in this type of work (high job security, health benefits, sick leave, vacation time, profit sharing, retirement plans)?
- How rapidly is your present career field growing? Is the growth greater in certain industries or geographic areas?
- How would you describe or estimate future prospects? Where will the jobs be in five or 10 years?
- If the work you do was suddenly eliminated, are there related career areas that you could pursue?
- How far can a person go in your career area? What is the career track like? Do people in certain areas advance faster?
- What obligations does your work place upon you, outside of the ordinary work week?
- How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, work hours, vacation schedule, place of residence, etc.?
- Does your company offer flex or comp time? Day care? Is relocation necessary? Does the company help with relocation?
Advice to me:
- How well suited is my background for this type of work? What do I need to do to become competitive?
- What educational preparation would be best? Are there certain majors, minors or elective classes I can take to improve my chances?
- What kind of experiences, paid employment or otherwise, would you most strongly recommend?
- If you were in college again and had to prepare all over again, what would you do differently?
Referral to others:
- Based on our conversation today, what other people do you believe I should talk to?
- Can you name a few people who might be willing to see me? May I have permission to use your name when I tell them how I got their name?
Don’t forget to say thank you, even though you plan to send a thank you letter or email.