by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Informational interviews can be a great method for job-seekers to conduct employer research. Read our article, Researching Employers through Informational Interviews.
Here are 40 questions job-seekers can ask prospective employers during informational interviews to conduct company research and learn as much about the company as possible.
Questions about the culture of your interviewee’s company or organization:
- Why did you decide to work for this company?
- What do you like most about this company?
- How does your company differ from its competitors?
- Why do customers choose this company?
- What is the company’s relationship with its customers?
- How optimistic are you about the company’s future and your future with the company?
- Has the company made any recent changes to improve its business practices and profitability?
- What does the company do to contribute to its employees’ professional development?
- What systems are in place to enable employees to give management feedback and suggestions?
- How does the company make use of technology for internal communication and outside marketing? (Use of e-mail, Internet, intranets, World Wide Web, videoconferencing, etc.)?
- What other technologies are integral to the company’s operation?
- How would you describe the atmosphere at the company? Is it fairly formal or more laid-back and informal?
- Do people in your department function fairly autonomously, or do they require a lot of supervision and direction?
- What are the people like with whom you work?
- How would you describe the morale level of people who work here?
- Do you participate in many social activities with your coworkers?
- Is there a basic philosophy of the company or organization and, if so, what is it? (Is it a people-, service- or product-oriented business?)
- What is the company’s mission?
- What can you tell me about the corporate culture?
- Is the company’s management style top-down, or do front-line employees share in decision-making?
- Is there flexibility in work hours, vacation schedule, place of residence, telecommuting, etc.?
- What’s the dress code here? Is it conservative or casual? Does the company have dress-down or casual days?
- Can men wear beards or long hair here?
- What work-related values are most highly esteemed in this company (security, high income, variety, independence)?
- What kind of training program does the company offer? Is it highly structured or more informal?
- Does the company encourage and/or pay for employees to pursue graduate degrees? Is there a tuition reimbursement program?
- Does the company offer an employee discount on the products it sells?
- What’s the best thing about the company?
- How does the company evaluate your job performance?
- How does the company recognize outstanding accomplishments of its employees?
- What does the company reward?
- Are there people within or outside the organization that the company holds up as heroes?
- Does the company observe any rituals, traditions, or ceremonies?
- What is the typical job-interview process at the company? How many interviews do candidates generally go through before being offered a position?
- What does the company do to foster innovation and creativity?
Questions about the company’s needs:
- In what areas do you perceive there to be gaps in personnel in this company? If the company had unlimited resources for creating new positions, in what areas should those positions be created?
- In what areas do you see the company expanding? Do you foresee the opening of new markets or greater globalization? Do you predict development of new products and/or services? Building of new facilities?
- How can employees prepare for any planned changes at the company?
- What obstacles do you see getting in the way of the company’s profitability or growth?
- If you needed someone to assist you in your job, what tasks would you assign to your assistant?
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
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