During an informational interview, you might be asked about your personal experiences and thoughts about your particular career field. Something you might be asked is, “What do you wish you’d known before you entered this field”
This question is often asked so that the interviewer can learn something about this industry that may not be readily apparent. People can learn a lot about a certain career field through independent research like what kinds of tasks will be expected of them and what experiences will benefit them prior to entering the field, but they may not know about sacrifices that have to be made to their personal lives. Your response to this question will give the interviewer valuable insight into this specific career.
Points to Emphasize
Your response to this question will be unique to your particular experiences, so make sure to keep these aspects in consideration.
- Give your honest opinion
- Your answer can be a positive or negative aspect about the industry
- Discuss how knowing what you know now in hindsight would have benefitted you
- Talk about how the interviewer can apply this lesson to his or her own career
Although you cannot prepare the interviewer for every single aspect about switching careers, you can prepare him or her to the best of your ability.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Your answer should be truthful to your own personal experiences, so there is no real wrong way to respond to this inquiry. However, you should avoid making these small errors.
- Avoid saying that there is nothing you wish you had known
- Don’t lie about your experiences
- Don’t feel the need to make your response overly serious
- Don’t make your response irrelevant to the career field you are in
The thing you wish you had known can be small or big. The purpose of your answer should be giving the interviewer knowledge other people might not have.
Your response to this question should go something like this:
Honestly, I wish I had spent more time focusing on gaining real world experience than focusing on my grades in college. I gave up internships that could’ve been very valuable, but I didn’t take them because I thought it would detract from my studies. Grades are obviously important to an extent, but I would’ve been a lot better off getting my start with a 3.2 and plenty of internships under my belt than a 3.8 and no work experience.
Your response should be relevant to your own personal experiences rather than industry trends, so feel free to talk about what you have learned. This is your chance to impart some of your wisdom to the interviewer.