Informational Interview Questions

If you’re considering a career change or entering the job market for the first time, you may have questions about what it’s like to work in a certain role. An informational interview is a great way to get background information about a job, what you need to succeed, how to get started in the industry and much more.

To help you prepare for an informational interview, here is some background information and several questions you can ask to learn more.

What is an informational interview?

An informational interview is not a part of the hiring process, nor should it be used to share your skills and background in hopes of being considered for an open position. It’s simply a way to find out more about a particular profession or company at the beginning of a job search.

Benefits of an informational interview

  • Get first-hand experience. Conducting an informational interview will help you better understand details about the job from someone currently doing it. Often, this perspective can highlight certain aspects of the position you might not learn from a job description, such as common challenges they face and details they enjoy about their work.
  • Learn tips and advice for succeeding in the role. A professional currently working in a role you’re considering can offer useful guidance to help you find, prepare for and do well in your future job. For example, they might be able to explain how to overcome obstacles or perform specific duties.
  • Discover what employers are looking for. When you’re preparing to apply for jobs, it’s helpful to know what skills and talents are highest in demand. This way, you can make sure to highlight these abilities on your resume and during your interviews. It can also help you identify areas you need to improve upon before you begin your job search.
  • Determine whether you want a similar job. An informational interview will give you a better idea about a day in the life in a certain job. This can help you decide whether or not it’s something you really want to do and learn about similar roles you may prefer instead.
  • Build your professional network. Meeting professionals in a field you might pursue will help you build your network. Conducting an informational interview could help you establish a relationship with a future mentor or someone who may recommend you for open opportunities.

How to ask for an informational interview

Here is an example email you can send when contacting a professional for an informational interview:

Subject Line: Informational interview request

Hi Justin,

My name is Rebecca and I recently graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. I’m interested in pursuing a career as a financial analyst and my former professor, Dev Patel, suggested I contact you to learn more about this profession.

Given your experience as a senior financial analyst for a large firm, I would love to learn more about your career background as well as any advice you may have for a new graduate looking to get into the industry.

If you’re available, I would love to meet for coffee sometime next week. I’m also happy to chat by phone if that’s easier for you.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks!

Rebecca O’Brian
Louisiana State University ’18

12 Questions to ask in an informational interview

1. What educational background do people typically have in this role?

2. What professional experience do people typically have in this role?

3. How would you recommend getting started in this profession?

4. What are some of the most in-demand skills for this position?

5. What are some of the most in-demand personal characteristics for this position?

6. What does a typical workday look like in this role?

7. What type of technology should you be familiar with to succeed in this role?

8. What is most fulfilling about this profession?

9. What are some of the most common challenges people face in this profession?

10. What are the opportunities for advancement in this role?

11. How have you seen people succeed at this company?

12. How do you think this company will grow in the next few years?

There are many methods and resources you can use to learn about a job role you want to pursue. However, conducting an informational interview with someone already in the profession or industry will help you uncover details you may not find anywhere else.

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