So, you decided on a career path and even booked an interview with a professional you admire. Your proactiveness is praiseworthy, but it shouldn’t stop there! Get the most out of the meeting with our hard-hitting informational interview questions and tips. 

What is an Informational Interview?

An informational interview is a one-on-one meeting with a professional to help you learn the ins and outs of a particular job, industry or company. If you’re a recent graduate or considering a career change, this discussion is an opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of a job’s responsibilities and growth prospects. 

Additionally, this meeting is a powerful tool to position yourself as a professional, proactive and strong candidate to consider for a job role. After all, 80% of jobs are filled through networking, so building rapport with someone experienced in the field is critical to starting your career. 

Remember: this is not a job interview. Show your interviewee you value their time by arriving with good informational interview questions that touch on all your essential topics. 

20 Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview and Why

We carefully gathered the top 20 questions to ask during an informational interview, covering topics like job responsibilities and challenges, industry details, work-life balance, career development opportunities and more. 

1Why did you decide to work in this industry?

It’s always best to start with an easy one. This question will help you break the ice and give you the necessary context about this person’s relationship with the industry. 

2Can you provide an overview of the functions and responsibilities of your job?

Asking about the responsibilities and functions of the job helps you better understand what the role entails and how it fits into the company’s overall processes. 

3What is a typical day like?

You want to ensure the position you’re going for aligns with your ideal lifestyle. This question gives you an idea of the work hours, how many meetings and teams are involved, and commute duration, among other details. 

4What is the biggest challenge at your job?

This type of question can illustrate the realities of the job and help you decide if you would enjoy addressing them.  

5What steps should someone take to prepare for a role like yours?

This question is excellent for setting actionable milestones to achieve if you’re interested in a similar position. There may be a particular internship that boosted their resume and impressed hiring managers. It’s essential to know these details. 

6What are some areas of growth in this industry?

It’s critical to know in which direction the industry is moving. Is it moving towards success or is it experiencing a downward turn? If the industry is growing, what positions or specialties are undergoing the most development? That’s where you want to go. 

7What is the most important thing a person entering this industry should know?

This question can offer unexpected insight into the industry and set expectations to help you prepare to enter the field. 

8What skills are vital to perform a role like yours?

This one is pretty straightforward. With this information, you know which skills to highlight on your resume and identify others that you may need to focus on developing. 

9What skills have you acquired since taking this role?

It’s important to know how that job role can allow you to continue expanding your skill set and if it focuses on the hard or technical skills you’re interested in. 

10 What kind of hours do you usually work?

Similar to question #3, this is an excellent way to know if the job position aligns with your lifestyle. Do you prefer to start work later in the day? Do you value a fixed work schedule or like to work on your own time?

11 Have you established a work/life balance?

Ask this question when it feels right, as it may be more personal for the interviewee. However, it’s vital to know these details. Is it a job that frequently expects you to take work home? This is also a good opportunity to discuss PTO and vacation days. 

12 Is your work primarily individual, or is teamwork necessary?

Some jobs are team-focused by definition, while others are purely individual. Which one would you prefer? Ensure the position you’re going for aligns with your preference. 

13 What are the biggest rewards this position has given you?

The right job should align with your values and priorities. Be bold and ask about the positive aspects of the role. Find out what has made the job worthwhile. Is it the recognition? The pay? It may be knowing you’re contributing to the greater good. 

14 What do you enjoy most about this role/industry?

Like the question above, this one focuses on positive aspects that motivate the person to do their job. The industry may give you access to exclusive events or encourage solid interpersonal relationships. The position may be the perfect stepping stone for a chance to achieve bigger things. 

15 Are any credentials or licenses required to perform this role?

You’re looking for specific steps to ensure you’re on the right track for your ideal role. Anything that can help you better prepare for the role and make you a desirable candidate is worth knowing. 

16 Can you work independently, or do you have a lot of supervision?

Some employees thrive with close guidance, while others are more motivated when they know their supervisor trusts their knowledge and instincts. Ensure the role aligns with your work style. 

17 How well did your academic background prepare you for this role?

If their academic background wasn’t enough to prepare them, what did? Did they explore other educational opportunities, or was it an unrelated professional experience?

18 What is an entry-level salary in this field?

The interviewee may want to avoid going into specifics about their own salary but may offer general information on salary ranges and standard earnings for entry-level positions. 

19 What surprised you most about this role or industry?

This question can offer surprising information about the industry that may help you better understand if it’s the right fit. 

20 Would you be willing to answer more questions if I need additional information?

This interview is an excellent opportunity to grow your professional network. Try to keep in contact with as many professionals as possible so you can continue to gather information for your career.

Informational Interview Tips

Remember these tips when preparing for your next informational interview: 

  • Be strategic when choosing your interviewee:

    The professional you interview should be as close to your ideal career as possible. Ask your college professor for a recommendation or search social media for professionals in the field who are in your vicinity. 

  • Research your interviewee:

    Although you will ask about their work and academic background, ensure you know enough about their history to ask thoughtful questions that show you’re genuinely interested. 

  • Have five to 10 questions prepared:

    We gave you 20 informational interview questions to ask. Decide which are most significant to you and write them down so you will remember. 

  • Respect their time:

    Remember, this is not a job interview. The interviewee is taking their time to offer guidance, so focus on the most essential details and keep it brief. 

  • Take notes and follow-up:

    Bring a notebook to take notes of important details that you can use to ask follow-up questions. This will ensure you gather all vital information and display your interest. 

Key Takeaways

We reviewed the best informational interview questions and tips to help you get the most out of the meeting. Let’s wrap it up with some key points: 

  • An informational interview is a short one-on-one meeting with a professional in your desired field where you can gather insight into the job role and industry. 

  • Networking is an essential part of building your career. Use this interview to build your professional network. 

  • When choosing your questions for the informational interview, try to touch on various topics: job functions, work-life balance, industry details, salary and growth opportunities, among others. 

  • Arrive at the interview prepared with thoughtful questions that show you did your research and are committed to starting your career. 


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