Questions to ask at an informational interview

Reference: NY Times; about.com                

 Informational interviews are a great way to build a picture of an occupation, company and/or industry. They are also an excellent opportunity to expand your network and practice your interview technique.
However, unlike a normal interview the emphasis will be on you to run the meeting and you will be asking most of the questions. It’s a good idea to think about the topics you want to discuss and plan the questions you’re going to ask.
Topics could cover areas such as what the work is like for the person you’re interviewing, how to get into the field, the state of the industry, salary ranges, required skills and experience, the culture and other contacts.
Whatever you decide to ask, make sure your questions reflect what you are genuinely curious about and whatever you do, don’t ask for a job.
Here are some examples of informational interview questions:
1. What is your full title/role description?
2. What does a typical day/week/month/year look like for you?
3. Can you tell me how you got to this position?
4. What do you like most about what you do, and what would you change if you could?
5. How do people break into this field? What’s the best way to get work experience?
6. What are the types of jobs that exist where you work and in the industry in general?
7. My strengths lie in [fill in the blank].  Which area of work would be most suited to me?
8. Which courses are most valuable in order to gain the skills necessary for success in this occupation?
9. What are the recruitment process steps? What are you looking for in interviews?
10. What are the key words to include in my CV or cover letter when job hunting in the field?
11. What are some of the biggest challenges facing your company and your industry today? How do you see the industry changing over the next 10 years?
12. What is your company’s USP?
13. How do you keep up with developments in your field? What do you read?
14. How has doing this job differed from your expectations? What have been the greatest moments and biggest challenges?
15. Are there any professional or trade associations or individuals you think I should connect with?
Remember to always follow up your interview with a thank you email and if you got on well, try to stay in touch.        
 
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