What questions should you ask in an informational interview?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten stuck at this point many a time. I have found a fabulous person to talk to, and even scheduled a time, and suddenly I’m panic-stricken because I don’t know what to ask.
First of all, don’t freak yourself out. You’re just going to have a conversation with another person—not even a famous person! Just a person whose job you’re curious about. Then start by jotting down what you really want to know. For me, this is usually stuff about what the job really looks like: a typical day, types of tasks, that sort of thing. Next, I usually want to know how the other person got there so I can understand if there are barriers I would need to overcome. That usually leads me to what the person enjoys about the job. List a few things like this, as well as anything else you really want to know. Once you have the basics, you probably have enough for the conversation. But it’s a good idea to have more questions written down in case you need them. Some people are harder to draw out, and sometimes when I get nervous, I can also forget things, so a list of questions is a great starting place. Here are some suggestions from The Balance Careers:
- What are the important keywords or buzzwords to include in a resume or cover letter when job hunting in the field?
- What are the opportunities for advancement, and to what position? Is an advanced degree needed, and if so, in what discipline?
- Which skills do employers look for?
- What are the satisfying aspects of this kind of work?
- What are the greatest pressures, strains, or anxieties in the work?
- Where are job listings found?
- What does your conversation partner know now that would have been helpful to know when she or he was in your shoes?
- How can you determine that you have the ability or potential to be successful in this specific occupation?
- Does the typical worker have a set schedule, or are the hours flexible?
- What are the demands and frustrations that typically accompany this type of work?
Do you have other suggestions? Let us know!