Performing research on potential employers and networking are an invaluable aspect of finding a job, and informational interviews are one of the strongest tools available for doing so. In some cases, the person you’re interviewing will be interested in you as a candidate, while in others they may be doing a favor for a mutual contact. Either way, be prepared to impress them and make the most of your time with them by arming yourself with questions on the following topics.
– What’s your job like? You can phrase this question in a variety of ways. You may want to ask about the skills your contact uses, what their workday looks like, what they like the most about their job, or what the culture is like at their company. Regardless, show interest in what they do at the start of the interview, and make sure to focus on information you can’t find publicly.
– What’s going on in the industry? This question can also take several forms. You may want to ask about whether the field is growing or contracting and what the prospects are for someone with your background and skill set. Or you may want to focus more on who the leaders in the industry are and what they’re doing.
– What’s the payoff? It’s appropriate to ask questions about lifestyle and compensation at an informational interview. Ask what the hours are and whether taking a job in the field usually results in a certain kind of lifestyle. Also ask what entry-level employees typically start out making and what the opportunities are for making more in the future.
– What are my chances? At some point in the interview, it makes sense to transition from talking about your contact and their company to talking about yourself. Ask questions about your skills and your background as well as the way you present yourself. And don’t be afraid to ask for advice on other options if you feel it’s appropriate. If your contact doesn’t think you’d be a good fit for the job you’re asking about, they may be able to point you in a better direction.