The Informational Interview Process and Questions

It is not difficult to conduct an excellent informational interview with someone who has a job that is interesting to you. Here is how to go about it.

Assuming that the individual has agreed to meet with you for 20 minutes and has now either joined you for a coffee or is speaking with you over the phone - here is a script on how to make the most of the opportunity.

  • Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me today Mr. Smith. I really appreciate your help.
  • May I start by asking how you got into this line of work?
  • What is it that you enjoy the most about it?
  • What parts of the work, do you enjoy the least?
  • If you think about your accomplishments at work, what are you most proud of?
  • What does a typical day in this role tend to look like?
  • What do you see as the challenges and opportunities for someone like me taking on a role such as the one you have?
  • What recommendations or advice would you have that would assist someone in being successful in this role?
  • If I were your son or daughter, what would you want me to know about this career path?
  • Thank you for your time today. Is there anything you would like to ask me?
  • You have been a great help to me. Have a great day.

So you can see a few things about this line of questioning. It is personal because we want the individual's experience not just the general high level concept of the career. There are of course many other questions you may ask and I offer these just as a flavour of how you can conduct the interview.

A final question worth considering is also, "Is there someone else you know that you think would be worth me speaking with and if so, would you refer me?"

This is a great way to get good information on the nature of a career path or role. Don't expect the answers to be all happy or good. No role is perfect!

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