Common informational interview questions
The goal of the informational interview is to:
- learn valuable information from your host
- make a good impression
- make a connection that may help you later in the job search
To accomplish this, you need to ask curious questions. The questions you ask help you gain valuable information about the job search.
Informational interviews should be between 20-30 minutes. You should aim to stay within that time frame. After you introduce yourself that means you will only have the chance to ask about 4-7 questions depending on how much they answer. Do not go over the time requested. Americans are generally very time-oriented and prefer to stick to schedules.
Remember: people like to talk about themselves, so asking them about their professional life is acceptable.
Before you arrive, make a list of questions you want to ask the person you are interviewing. These questions can be about their background, their work history, or their company. To figure out what questions you’d like to ask, consider this:
What information can they provide that will help you in your job search?
What would you like them to remember about you?
Here are some other questions that may be interesting:
- How did you get started in this field?
- What is an average day like for you?
- What’s it like to work here at (name of company)?
- How did you end up in this job?
- What did you study in school that has made you prepared for this job?
- What skills are the most valuable to you in your work?
- How did you find the job you are in now?
- How would you describe the company culture?
- What’s makes this company different from others?
- What are some of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on in this position?
- What qualities do you look for when hiring your team members?
- What qualities do your team members bring to this organization that make them super star employees?
- What makes this company distinct from its competitors/others in this field?
- What keeps you coming to work every day? (besides a paycheck :))
These are just a sample of questions to keep the conversation going. As conversations are fluid and unpredictable, it’s important to prepare more questions than you can ask so you can adapt if the conversation shifts.
Keep in mind, to make a good, memorable impression, you still have to engage in a conversation. Don’t just ask questions. Be flexible enough to share your ideas and thoughts on their answers. These questions should help you have a conversation. Add your thoughts when you get an answer that interests you. You are an interesting student after all! The dialogue is two-way, even though you are doing the interview.