An informational interview (or meeting, since you’re not actually asking for a job) is kind of like a first date… with less pressure.
Your motivation may be to learn more about the person’s field of work, company, current job, or career path. So relax. Take a deep breath. And come prepared with some questions to help guide the conversation:
About the person and their current job
- What is your educational background?
- How did you get started in this field?
- What was your career path like? How did you get your current job?
- Does this career path require an advanced degree? If so, is a Masters of PhD a better choice?
- What do you like most and least about your job?
- What do you wish you would have known prior to entering this field?
- What would you change about your job/career path if you could?
- Where do you see yourself going from here?
- What do you do during a typical work day/week?
- What are some of the problems and decisions you are likely to face in a day?
- What do you spend most of your time doing?
- How much paperwork do you have? Interaction with others?
- Do you have frequent contact with people (customers, co-workers, supervisors, the general public, etc.) What is the nature of those interactions?
- How does your job affect your general lifestyle? What is your schedule generally like?
- How many hours do you generally work in a given week?
- What obligations, if any, 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, etc.?
Work setting / culture / climate
- Do you determine what tasks you will work on and how to structure your time or is that determined for you?
- How would you characterize your working relations or work environment (formal, informal, etc.)?
- Do you work primarily alone or in collaboration with others?
- How are decisions made?
- What is the company’s management philosophy?
About the career field / industry
- What are the employment trends and how rapidly is your present career field growing?
- What specific jobs are in demand and which are being cut back?
- Is relocation to another state or company necessary? What is the turnover rate like?
- What is the salary range for the various levels in this field?
- What type of professional development or training opportunities are there?
Preparation / qualifications
- What credentials, educational degrees, licenses, etc. are required for entry into this field?
- What kind of prior work experiences would be good background for the position?
- How do college majors fit in?
- What specific skills are required? What are some additional skills that will be helpful?
- What qualities and qualifications do you look for in an ideal candidate?
- What is the profile of someone who is successful in this field?
- How are hiring decisions made?
- How did the last few people you hired obtain the position? What were their backgrounds?
- How do people find out about these jobs? Are they advertised? If so, where? How else does one hear about openings?
- Is this a realistic goal? Am I in the ballpark?
- How does someone with my background and skills fit the needs of an organization in this industry?
- Do I have to develop some skills or gain some experiences to make myself more competitive?
- What professional associations or organizations do you think might be useful to contact for information or to join?
- What’s next and where do I go from here?
- How do people break into the field? What’s my next big step?
- What advice do you have for me as I try to break into this field?
- What entry-level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
- Are there other people you think I would benefit from talking to?
- Can I use your name when I contact them?
- Could I stay in contact with you if I have other questions?