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Smart Questions To Ask in an Informational Interview

An essential strategy to make your informational interview a success is to ask questions that are open-ended and cannot be answered simply with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. By asking thought-provoking questions, you can take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of the person you’re speaking with, while demonstrating your own commitment to learning and growth. You could ask:

  • How did you get started in this field?
  • What do you like most about working for this company?

Understanding their career progression can provide guidance for your own. Consider asking:

  • How has your role evolved since joining the company?
  • What key skills or experiences allowed you to excel and move forward in your career?

You should also inquire about the company culture and work environment:

  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • Can you share an example of a project that exemplified teamwork and collaboration within the company?

Make sure to inquire about opportunities for growth and development:

  • Are there opportunities for professional development and learning within the company?
  • What resources or support does the company offer to help employees grow in their roles?

Self-Improvement Questions

Skills and Expertise

  • What specific skills would help someone excel in this field?
  • Are there any emerging trends or technologies that you believe will impact the industry in the near future?
  • How important is knowing multiple languages or having international experience in your line of work?

Workshops and Training

Another important aspect to inquire about during an informational interview is the availability and effectiveness of workshops and training programs within the industry. By doing so, you can identify opportunities to further enhance your skillset and stay competitive in the job market. Consider asking questions like:

  • Are there any workshops, seminars, or training programs you would recommend for someone looking to develop their skills in this field?
  • How frequently do you personally participate in professional development, and do you find it valuable?
  • Can you suggest any online resources or platforms for learning industry-specific skills and staying up-to-date on current trends?
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Professional Questions

These questions allow you to understand the company’s potential for long-term success and the growth opportunities available to you within the organization.

Company Culture

When participating in an informational interview, it’s essential to ask about the company culture. You might ask:

  • How would you describe the work environment here?
  • Can you tell me about the company values, and how they align with your day-to-day responsibilities?
  • What’s your favorite team or company event?

Role Specific

Inquiring about role-specific aspects is also crucial when conducting an informational interview. Consider asking the following questions:

  • How did you land in this role, and what did your career path look like leading up to it?
  • What are the most important skills needed to succeed in this position?
  • Could you describe a typical day in your role?

By asking these questions, you can get an idea of the skills and experiences needed for the job and whether it aligns with your career goals.

Future Projection

Gaining insight into the future projections of the company and the industry as a whole is another great aspect to cover in an informational interview. Here are some questions to consider:

  • In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing the industry today?
  • How do you see the company (and your role) evolving as the market shifts?
  • What are the growth opportunities within the organization for someone in this role?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do you enjoy most about your role?

When asking this question, you are giving the interviewee an opportunity to share what they find most rewarding and motivating about their job. Their response can provide insight into the positive aspects of working in that particular field and help you determine if it aligns with your own interests and values.

2. What skills and qualities are essential for success in this field?

This question helps you gain information on the key skills and personal traits needed for success in the industry. The answers might help you understand what areas you need to improve or further develop to achieve your career goals.

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3. How did you get started in this industry?

By asking this question, you can learn about the interviewee’s career path, which can be valuable for finding your own way into the industry. Their experiences and decisions might be useful to identify the steps you need to take to break into a particular field.

4. Can you describe a typical day or week in your position?

This question allows you to get a feel for the daily tasks and responsibilities of someone working in the role you’re interested in. It helps you understand the day-to-day elements of the job and might reveal aspects you didn’t consider initially.

5. What are the most common challenges or obstacles in this line of work?

Understanding the potential challenges and obstacles in a certain industry helps you prepare for them mentally and practically. Realistic expectations are important in choosing a career path that suits your personal qualities, goals, and resilience.

6. Are there any specific resources or networking opportunities you would recommend for someone looking to enter this field?

This question gets you valuable recommendations for resources, organisations, or events that can be helpful in your career journey. Networking is a crucial aspect of most industries, making it essential to learn about useful connections and opportunities from people who already have experience in the field.

Wrapping Up the Interview

As you approach the end of the informational interview, it’s essential to leave a lasting impression and effectively wrap up the conversation. A few key steps can help you achieve this goal.

  • First, you’ll want to summarize the main points discussed during the interview. This shows your attention to detail and demonstrates that you’ve been actively engaged in the conversation. For example, you might say:
  • “I appreciated hearing about your experience with X company and learning about the various challenges and opportunities in your role.”
  • Next, express your gratitude for the time and valuable insights shared by the interviewee. Acknowledging their effort shows that you respect their expertise and the time they took to meet with you. You might say:
  • “Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. I’ve gained a clearer understanding of the industry and the potential career paths available.”
  • Don’t forget to inquire about any next steps or recommendations for further exploration. Asking for guidance exhibits your eagerness to learn more and make the most of the interviewee’s knowledge. For example:
  • “Based on our conversation, do you have any suggestions for additional resources or people I can connect with to further expand my understanding of this field?”
  • Finally, remember to follow up with the person after the interview. Sending a thoughtful thank-you email reiterates your gratitude and can serve as a gentle reminder to the interviewee about any introductions or resources they offered to provide.
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A simple message might look like this:

“Hi [Interviewee’s Name],

I wanted to thank you once again for your time and insights during our informational interview. I found our conversation very enlightening and I’m excited to explore the resources and connections you suggested. I look forward to staying in touch and potentially seeking your guidance in the future.

Best regards,

[Your Name]”

By following these steps, you’ll leave a positive, lasting impression and effectively wrap up your informational interview, setting the stage for future networking opportunities and continued learning.

Posted in: Job Interview