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Informational Interviewing Tips and Sample Questions

Important Tips for Doing an Informational Interview

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Conduct your Informational Interview professionally. Informational interviewing is an opportunity to get a first hand look at a career field of interest. It offers you a way to gain first-hand knowledge about a career field which can not be matched by written and/or web resources. When used skillfully, it is one of the most valuable of all sources of occupational information.

An Informational Interview is much less stressful than the usual interviewing situation and it is one of the few times when the interviewee leads the interview. It's important to be clear about what you are hoping to accomplish with your advisor prior to the interview. Sketch out a brief outline of the topics to be covered as well as the information gained as soon as possible after the interview. Be sure to send your advisor a thank you note.

The following questions are intended to help you create a more realistic picture of the career you are interested in pursuing.

These questions are to be used only as a guideline.

1. What are other commonly used titles for this or similar positions?

2. What type of work is performed daily? Weekly? Monthly? Annually?

3. Is the work typically routine or does it vary significantly on a daily basis?

4. What degree or certification do employers seek? Are you familiar with any of these programs?

5. What type of experience do employers seek?

6. Are there ways to obtain this experience prior to working in the field?

7. Do successful applicants need additional experience besides educational and experiential requirements to break into the field?

8. Are there any “key” words to include in a resume and cover letter when looking for jobs in the field?

9. What are the typical settings people in this type of work can expect?

10. What are the key personal characteristics for success in this field?

11. What are some related occupations?

12. What opportunities for advancement exist?

13. Can you describe the salary ranges of typical jobs within the company or field?

14. Does your organization offer internships or do you know other organizations that offer internships in the field?

15. Are hours set or is their flexibility in work times?

16. What demands and frustrations typically accompany this type of work?

17. What would indicate if one possesses the ability or potential to be successful in this line of work?

18. What types of technology are used in this field?

19. What types of publications would list job openings in this field?

20. Would you offer any advice or suggestions for someone considering going into the field given what you know now?

21. What are the satisfying and/or rewarding aspects of working in this field?

22. What are the greatest pressures, strains or anxieties in this field? Major job responsibilities? Toughest problems and decisions? Dissatisfying aspects of this work and is this typical of the field?

23. Can the advisor suggest others who may be valuable sources of information?

Consider your reactions to the interview….

  • Are you comfortable with the daily, monthly, annual hours and schedule?

  • Are there things you need to do to make yourself a viable candidate?

  • Do you think you would be satisfied or dissatisfied with what the advisor described?

  • What is your reaction to the stresses and anxieties of the job?

  • What new information do you think you obtained from your interview?

  • Does that affect your view of the job?

  • What are the entry level positions in the field and what skills would one need to advance?
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