How to Conduct Great Informational Interviews #3: Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview

BusinesswomanBefore you arrive for your informational interview, it’s useful to think about what knowledge you would like to gain from the experience and come up with a basic list of questions you’d like to ask.

What’s the Point of an Informational Interview, Anyway?

Your goal is to get a good overview of what the person you’re talking with does on a daily basis, and their opinion on the pros and cons of their job.

Useful Questions to Ask

Typically, you’ll want to ask some of the following:

  • How did you end up working in this field?
  • What do you do at your job on an average day?
  • How do you like your work? What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it?
  • How does your day-to-day work differ from what you thought you’d be doing when you chose this field?
  • What skills are required to be good at your job?
  • Would you recommend your field to someone like me who’s considering it? What do you think are the good aspects? The bad aspects?
  • What sort of person do you think excels in this field?
  • If I’m interested in entering this field, what steps should I take?
  • Is there anything else you think I should know that I haven’t asked about?
  • Is there anyone else you think I should talk to in order to find out more about this field?

(The final question is critical, as it allows the person to make an introduction for you.)

Generally, an informational interview should be relatively short (less than an hour), so feel free to wrap things up when you’ve gotten answers to most of your questions.

Remember to Say Thanks!

After each interview, be sure send a thank you note (even if it’s just an email).

This person did you a favor by taking time out of their day to speak with you, so let them know that you appreciate their time and effort!

Keep Reading:

The four-step guide to conducting great informational interviews:

Have great questions for an informational interview? Leave them in the comments!

Image by fakhar via stock.xchng.


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  1. I have a question about informational interviews that happen via email. For example, the dean of the law school sends you the email of alumni that do not live in your area. Would it be appropriate to ask these questions via email and if so, how can you do that without sounding like an interrogator? Or is it better to request to speak with them on the phone?


    • I think either way can work. You might have more luck starting with a few questions in an email, and then asking to follow up with a phone call, if the person is receptive. (Or, if they’re not receptive to a phone call, at least you got some information from them!)

      People vary in how they like to communicate, so you could also send a couple of question in an email, and offer to schedule a call if they’d prefer that.


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