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What do you ask at an Informational Interview?

April 14, 2011
Have you ever asked another professional for an Informational Interview?  Perhaps you should.

I’ve suspected many people don’t know what Informational Interviewing is all about.  Many of us just sit in front of the computer searching for information about a job, the company, what is the department like, and even, who might be the hiring manager?  After spending countless hours weeding through sites that led nowhere, it simply might be put, “Why don’t you call so-and-so for a cup of coffee or lunch, and find out?”  Thus, we have the makings of an Informational Interview.  Finding out facts about a position from someone on the inside.  But, once you have the appointment, what kind of questions do you ask?  Here’s a list I’ve compiled, which is by no means complete, and should be definitely be tailored for your particular meeting:
  • What’s the title for your position?
  • What would you like to be called, based on what you do from day-to-day?
  • What are other commonly used titles for the type of position that I might be looking for?
  • What are the duties performed during a typical day?
  • Week?
  • Month?
  • Quarter?
  • Year?
  • Is there a set routine, or is there much variety on a day-to-day basis?
  • What certifications do they look for in your department?
  • What kind of work experience would upper management look for in a job applicant?
  • Are any additional activities you would recommend for this position?
  • What are the important “key words” or “buzz words” to include in a resume, and/or cover letter when job prospecting at this company?
  • What are some of the opportunities for advancement?
  • Which skills do you look for in your department?
  • What are some of the important personal characteristics for success in the company?
  • What other kinds of workers frequently interact with this position?
  • Might you know the different salary ranges?
  • Does the typical worker have a set schedule (such as 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or are the hours flexible?
  • What are the frustrations that typically accompany this type of work?
  • Is there a typical chain of command for this position?
  • Is this a rapidly growing field? Is it possible to predict future staffing needs in this field?
  • What types of software are being used?
  • Where does the company post job listings for what I do?
  • What do you know now, which would have been helpful to know, when you were in my shoes?
 I’d love to get some of your thoughts on the Informational Interviews that you have been on….And, what’s the one thing you would you have done differently?  Thanks!
2 Comments leave one →
  1. sOCORRO permalink
    July 22, 2011 10:32 pm

    Good information. I first learned about II from Richard Nelson Bolles, the author of WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? I am sending this link to Carol Christen, author with Bolles for WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE FOR TEENS?

    • July 22, 2011 10:39 pm

      Thanks. I read the book you mentioned as well. It changes very frequently, to keep up with the times, so make sure you have the latest, and greatest.

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