What to Ask During an Informational Interview

Setting up an informational interview might seem intimidating, but it is a great way to get inside information about your chosen career path. Any job seeker or employee at any level can benefit from talking to professionals in various positions about their backgrounds, career paths and industry knowledge.

An informational interview is NOT the right time to apply for campaign for a specific job opening. An informational interview is the time for you to gain deeper knowledge about a career path or company so that you will be ready for your next job interview.

Here are some sample questions you might ask during an informational interview. Change them into working that you feel comfortable with and add questions that are important to your particular career field. You do not need to ask each professional every question.

  1. How did you get into your current position?
  2. How did you choose this career path?
  3. What education, training and experience do you have? What background is typically needed at your career level?
  4. What education or training is needed for entry-level employees in this field (specific schools or programs, types of certifications, previous work or life experiences, etc.)?
  5. What’s the corporate culture like at your current company (hours, pay ranges, diversity, etc.)? Is this company typical of others in this field?
  6. What do you like about your job? Dislike?
  7. Describe a typical day on the job for you. Do you have a busy season or less active times during the year?
  8. How do you keep your skills updated?
  9. How do you network with people in your field, within and outside your company?
  10. Which companies are your closest competitors and how do they differ from your company?
  11. How has the work in this career changed in recent years? What economic or social trends are affecting your work?
  12. What are current job prospects like?
  13. What are employers really looking for currently (skills, education, experience)?
  14. What are some common entry-level job titles in this field?
  15. What is the potential for advancement in this field?
  16. What’s the best way to find out about jobs in this field?
  17. Are there related career fields I could look into if there aren’t any job openings in my main career choice?
  18. What is your advice to someone interested in this field?
  19. Could you review my resume and make suggestions for improvements?
  20. Can you refer me to someone else in this field who I might talk to?


Originally published July 2010

6 thoughts on “What to Ask During an Informational Interview

  1. Hi Denise,
    Thank you for posting this information! I have an informational interview coming up and this will help me to fomalize and verbalize the process!

  2. Denise,
    Thank you for breaking down the informational interviewing process. Can you give me your opinion on the following:
    1) When approaching someone for an informational interview request, how much of your time should you request? 15-30min?
    2) How about informational interviewing with entrepreneurs in an area in which one would like to enter themselves? Is it appropriate to ask for an informational interview even if one can be viewed as potential competition to the interviewee?
    I would greatly appreciate any advice you can offer. Thank you.

    1. Good questions Jen!

      1 – Schedule an informational interview for 30 minutes, unless you know the person is very busy. Ideally your series of questions will turn into a natural conversation about the career field or your career goals. Also, ask the professional if they prefer the informational interview to take place over the phone, at their place of business or at a coffee shop (you pay).

      2 – As for entrepreneurs, seek out professional organizations or online groups for small business owners or people in your career field. Then look for entrepreneurs in those groups who seem willing to mentor or talk with other entrepreneurs. Your request for information will be better received by someone who has already “put themselves out there” than by a business owner you call out of the blue.

      Keep looking up,

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