Informational interviews are really the most valuable part of your job search. They give you a chance to ask for advice from someone who is successful in the field, and they give you an opportunity to practice your networking skills says Paul Haarman. But what should you ask during this interview? And how do you make it a success?
Here are Five Common Questions Asked In an Informational Interview:
1. What is a typical day like?
When you informally sit down with someone in your industry, chances are that he will be able to give you more detailed insights into what goes on each day at work than any career website possibly could. He may even remember the exact schedule he used when he worked in your field! You can ask him about all sorts of details: “Do you get to lunch early or stay late?” “Do you have a lot of meetings, or do you work more independently?” “When the phone rings, does it usually mean good news or bad news?”
2. How did you get started?
Informal interviews are also the best opportunity to ask about how people ended up working in their field. You could ask for a detailed explanation of how he made his career choices or just ask where he earned his first paycheck. Either way, the answer will give you insight into whether this is really a job that would be a good fit for your skills and interests. Most likely, your interviewer will remember exactly what led her to her current position so don’t be shy about asking!
3. What kind of education or training is required?
Most people are at the top of their field because they have taken steps to develop their skills says Paul Haarman. You can also learn about your industry by asking what education or training is required for success on the job. On one end of the spectrum, you might ask if she needs a college degree, and how many years of experience are necessary to advance in this line of work. You may also want to ask more specific questions like “What types of classes did you take?” “Did you go on exchange programs?”
4. What are some good resources for someone new to this career field?
Another purpose of an informal interview is for information-gathering, which includes finding out where you can get helpful resources. Find out whether there are organizations in your area, contact persons for further information, or websites you can visit. Also try to get informed about the common requirements of employees in this field. Does your interviewer belong to professional associations that offer trainings or networking opportunities? Do most people work between 35-40 hours per week?
5. Is there anything else you think I should know before pursuing a job in this industry?
The end of an informational interview is not truly the end after all! When you ask if there is “anything else” he thinks you should know, this gives him the opportunity to tell you any other advice and wisdom that was not covered already explains Paul Haarman. You may also want to ask if he could recommend anyone else who would be willing to share more insight with you.
DO: Prepare questions in advance.
DON’T: Ask about salary, benefits or vacation time at the beginning of the informational interview. These topics should be left for when you have an actual job interview.
DO: Try to ask open-ended questions that require a more detailed answer rather than a simple yes or no.
DON’T: Make assumptions about your interviewer’s life and try to figure out what he did before his current job. You can ask him where he earned his first paycheck without asking too many personal questions! Be careful to keep information you get from this interview separate from any other companies who make hiring decisions in his field, since they may not want their employees sharing potentially confidential information with outsiders!
In an informal interview, you can learn a lot of information about whether or not this would be the right career choice for you says Paul Haarman. Remember to talk about how it feels to work in your interviewer’s industry and ask him if he has any recommendations for further research and resources! Good luck and happy interviewing!