15 Questions to Ask in an
Before we get started, let's get something straight: an informational interview is not a job interview.
Even if you’re not currently job searching, requesting an informational interview with someone you admire (or with someone whose job you admire) means you’re willing to meet with them to hear their story without pressing your own on them.
Informational interviews are an incredible way to get a clear visual of an industry, company, or position to determine if it’s right for you. When done right, they also help you expand your professional network (and yes, many people have received job offers because of an informational interview they did). So we’re talking a win-win situation here.
But once you’ve gotten someone to agree to meet you for a coffee, what questions should you ask in an informational interview? Here are 15 of our favorites, along with some tips on writing personalized questions for each meeting.
15 QUESTIONS TO ASK IN EVERY INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW
Informational Interview Question 1: Can you tell me a bit about your career path and what led you to the role you’re in today?
Informational Interview Question 2: What were some of your early roles in the field?
Informational Interview Question 3: What does a work day look like for you?
Informational Interview Question 4: What are some big projects you’re working on now or that you’ve finished up in the last few months?
Informational Interview Question 5: What do you enjoy most about the work you do? / What are you most excited about right now?
Informational Interview Question 6: What do you enjoy the least? Or, is there something that surprised you about the role when you first started?
Informational Interview Question 7: What skills do you think are most important for someone interested in a job like yours?
Informational Interview Question 8: Do you think there’s a personality type that’s not well-suited for this kind of career?
Informational Interview Question 9: What are some of the biggest challenges you face day-to-day?
Informational Interview Question 10: What about the biggest rewards?
Informational Interview Question 11: What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out in this career/role?
Informational Interview Question 12: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
Informational Interview Question 13: Do you have any recommendations for other people I should talk to or other resources I should explore?
Informational Interview Question 14: Are there any questions I’m not asking that I should be?
Informational Interview Question 15: Would it be alright for us to stay in touch?
ALSO, INCLUDE 3-5 QUESTIONS SPECIFIC TO THE PERSON AND COMPANY
How to Personalize Your Informational Interview Questions
- Ask them about their earliest internships or roles (“I saw on LinkedIn that you interned at Google before graduating—did you find that internship helpful for finding jobs later?”
- Ask about volunteer work or professional organizations (“I noticed you are a member of AIGA—have you found that helpful?”)
- Somewhat personal questions are OK as long as you tread lightly (“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I know you’re a working mom. I’d like to have children as well someday. How have you found that navigating a career in this field as a mom?”)
DON'T FORGET: WIND DOWN IN A TIMELY FASHION
And make sure to stay in touch if you asked if you could! It’s good to set a calendar notification on your phone for one or three months, so you don’t forget.