Arrive at your next informational interview prepared to gain valuable insights for your next career move.
It’s nearly impossible to discuss job-search tactics without mentioning the value of networking. Smart job seekers not only invest in developing their professional networks; they also tap into these connections for introductions, job leads and other valuable insights. However, one networking technique is often overlooked by even the savviest of job seekers: informational interviewing.
The concept of the informational interview (also known as an informational conversation) was first introduced by Richard N. Bolles, author of the popular job-search book, What Color is Your Parachute? Bolles believes that job seekers should speak with professionals in their field of interest to gather more information before choosing a particular career path.
I couldn’t agree more.
Whether you’re new to the workforce or you’re considering changing careers, informational interviews are a great way explore various career options and clarify your job goals. Furthermore, they can be an effective way to gather insight into a particular company when you’re preparing for an interview.
Below are nine questions you can ask during your next informational interview – and one to avoid – to make the most of this valuable opportunity.
Questions to ask:
- How did you end up in this industry? Did you always want to be a [position]?
- What do you enjoy most – and least – about working in this field (or at this organization)?
- Based on my research, it seems like most professionals start off as a [position] – is this consistent with what you’ve seen?
- What’s a typical day like for someone who holds this position at your organization?
- When you’re hiring someone for your team, what do you look for? What skills and experience do you consider most valuable?
- I’ve often been told that my core strengths as a professional are [______]. I enjoy working on projects that involve [______] skills. If that’s the case, what roles do you think I’d be best suited for in your field?
- Are there any specific networking groups or professional associations you recommend I join to learn more about this industry?
- I’m currently subscribed to the following publications to learn more about this industry:[______]. Are there any others you recommend I check out?
- Is there anything else you think I should be aware of before pursuing a career in [______] field?
And one question to avoid:
- Can you find me a job?
In the end
Remember, the goal of an informational conversation is not to secure a job lead. While this may occur naturally, it should not be your primary objective. Use this opportunity to pick your contact’s brain and learn their personal career story. As a result, you’re sure to receive great career advice and valuable insights into a new field.