A wonderful source for assembling information about industry trends or career profiles is to talk to people working in the field. This process is called informational interviewing. An informational interview is an interview that you initiate - you ask the questions. The purpose is to obtain information; not to get a job.
Reasons to conduct information interviews:
- To explore careers and clarify your goals;
- To discover opportunities that are not advertised;
- To access up-to-date industry information;
- To build confidence for your interviews.
How to Get the Most Out of an Informational Interview
- Call your contact and request a few hours of their time.
- What is a convenient time for them to meet?
- Follow-up after your meeting with a "thank you" letter.
Questions to ask at an informational interview
- What was your major in college?
- Do you use, or how do you use, your major in your work?
- How did you get to where you are from being a __________ major?
- What type of degree(s) do you have?
- How did you decide on this career?
- How did you get into this field and your present position?
- Please give me a general description of the work you do.
- What kinds of skills does someone need to be able to do your job?
- What is the range of your duties and responsibilities?
- How is your time divided among your duties and responsibilities?
- What is the most difficult aspect of your job/career?
- What are the entry-level jobs in your area?
- What skills, interests, values and personality characteristics are important for a position in your field?
- What changes are taking place in this type of work?
- How do people usually learn about job openings in your field?
- What experiences would you advise college students to develop while in school if they want a job like yours or in a related field?
- What types of employers, other than your own, hire people to perform the kind of work you do?
- Do you know of any employers that offer entry-level training programs or opportunities?
- If you were hiring someone today for an entry-level position, what would be the most critical factors influencing your choice of one candidate over another?
- What educational degrees, licenses, or other credentials are required for entry and advancement in your industry?
- What are the opportunities for advancement? What does the career ladder look like?
- Could you recommend others in your field with whom I may speak?
- Are you a member of trade/professional groups? Which do you find most beneficial in your work?
- What publications/periodicals should I read in order to better acquaint myself with this industry?
- What do you find most rewarding about your work?
- Does your job affect your personal life? If so, how?
- Did any of your leisure activities have an impact on your choice of profession?