Informational Interviews

What is an informational interview?

An informational interview is a one-on-one conversation with an individual who has a job you are interested in, works within a field you might want to enter, or is employed by an organization that you may want to work for in the future. The purpose of an informational interview is not to get a job. Instead, the goal is to gain a better understanding of an occupation, industry, or organization from someone with first-hand experience.

What to ask?

Identify what information you would like to obtain from the interview, then prepare a list of questions.

The following are some sample questions:

  • How did you become interested in this career field?
  • How did you get started?
  • What training or education did you have?
  • Where did you attend school?
  • What advice would you give to a person interested in this field?
  • In your opinion, what are the current career opportunities for someone with my qualifications in the industry?
  • What are the basic requirements for an entry-level position in the industry?
  • What are the entry-level / mid-level / experienced employment prospects for liberal arts graduates in your geographic area? Where are the best employment prospects?
  • What are your major job responsibilities?
  • What does a typical day in your position include?
  • What do you like most about your work?
  • What do you like least?
  • What is your schedule like?
  • How has your job impacted your personal lifestyle?
  • What skills do you use most often?
  • What personality characteristics are important for your job?
  • How is your performance evaluated?
  • What are the major frustrations, problems, and difficulties?
  • If you could do things over again, would you choose the same path? If not, what would you change?
  • What promotion opportunities are available in your line of work?
  • What do you see in the future for this line of work?
  • How would you describe to culture or personality of your organization?
  • What kind of work/internship/volunteer experience do employers most look for?
  • Which skills do employers most look for? What types of technology are used, and how are they used?
  • How might I identify opportunities to gain these experiences and skills?
  • What are the important "buzz words" to include in a resume or cover letter when job hunting in this field?
  • What other kinds of workers do you frequently interact with?
  • Is there a typical chain of command in this field?
  • What are some related occupations?
  • What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were in my shoes?
  • Is there anything else I should have asked you?
  • Who else would be a good contact about this field?