9 questions to ask during an information interview
An information interview is an informational meeting held with someone about a specific position, company or area that interests you and that you want to learn more about. It should be a safe environment where you are free to ask questions and get insightful comments. It is not considered a job interview and should generally not last longer than thirty minutes at most. It’s not a traditional job interview where your goal is to get hired for a specific job.
Information interviews are essential because they:
- Create an opportunity to learn, grow, and gain first-hand knowledge about a person, business or industry.
- Help you get important information about an individual’s career path and all the advice they can offer.
- Develop your professional network by meeting contacts who can refer you to others in their field.
- Increase your self-confidence through professional face-to-face interactions in formal and informal situations.
- You strategically put at the forefront of people’s minds to improve your visibility, which could benefit you in the long run for well-matched business opportunities.
- Improve your interpersonal skills by engaging in conversation, actively listening, and asking interesting and intelligent questions.
Before requesting an informational interview, you should do some preparatory research on the position, company, and person you are meeting and create compelling questions to ask them to get the most out of the meeting.
Ask these 9 questions for a successful and productive information interview:
- What was your journey like to get to where you are?
- What is your daily life at work?
- What do you value most about your job?
- What is your biggest challenge in your job?
- What are the most important skills in your role?
- Do you like your job / business? Why or why not?
- What industry trends or changes should I know about? What didn’t you know before your job that you wish someone had told you?
- If you were in my shoes, what companies or people would you talk to?
- Can you connect me with 3 “names” (people / places / or things) that I should study?
Within 24 hours of the meeting, thank the person you met for their time and for sharing their expertise. Send this gratitude message via email or better yet, with a handwritten note. It’s a small gesture that goes a long way and makes a positive and lasting impression.
Many employment experts say that you should always look for a new job. Information interviews should not only be used when looking for a new opportunity, but should be an ongoing practice to take your career to the next level. Informational interviews provide invaluable insight; conduct them regularly to catapult your career.