by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Job shadowing offers students a great opportunity to learn more about a career by spending at least part of a day with a professional — observing, participating, and asking questions.
Students can enhance their shadowing experience by preparing a list of questions to ask. While you may get to only ask a handful of your questions — you do not want to bombard (and distract) the people you are shadowing with too many questions — it’s a good idea to plan for more questions in the event you shadow on a slow day.
What types of questions can and should you ask during your shadowing? Think of all the information you would like to have to help you better understand and decide whether the career field you are considering is right for you. The following is a list of questions you can ask — feel free to modify them to better serve you, and remember you do not need to ask all of them!
Questions You Can Ask at the Job Shadow
- What type of education and training prepared you for this career field?
- What type of education and training would you recommend for someone just starting out in this career? For someone who wanted your job?
- What types of skills are necessary for succeeding in this career?
- How has this career field changed since the time you started in it?
- What advice do you have for someone considering this career?
- How did you know this was the right career for you? Did you consider any other careers?
- Are you passionate about your career? What makes you passionate about your career?
- What types of things were you interested in during high school?
- What other careers or industries could you work in with your education and experience?
- What do you see as the biggest changes that have happened in this career field? That will happen in the future?
- How has technology changed this career?
- How has the economy affected this career?
- How long have you worked for this employer?
- How did you choose this employer to work for?
- How does your employer differ from its competitors?
- How did you get your current job?
- What is your exact job title — and how long have you been in this job?
- What do you like most about working for this employer?
- Have you worked for any other employers?
- What do you like most about your job?
- What do you like least about your job?
- Can you describe a typical day at your job?
- How much of your day is spent behind a desk? Out in the field?
- How much are you required to work outside normal business hours?
- What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your job?
- How much does this career and job affect your personal life?
- What’s the most valuable reward you receive from this job? Money? Fame? Helping people?
- What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned — about this career, your job, or life in general?
- What’s the most important advice you have for someone just starting out in this career?
- What types of summer jobs or internships should I seek out as I continue my education?
- What type of Websites and other tools do you use to stay current with your career — with your profession?
- What’s the biggest stumbling block you see with younger job-seekers?
- What does your employer — or employers in general — look for in younger job-seekers?
- Do you expect the workplace to change much in the next five years?
- What is the employment outlook for this career field? How much demand is there for entry-level job-seekers?
- Is there anything else that I have not seen today or that we have not talked about that you think is important for me to know as I continue my quest for the ideal career for me?
Final Thoughts on Job Shadowing Success
This list of questions you can ask of the person you are shadowing should be more than enough to provide you a comprehensive understanding, but if you still seek other possible questions, check out this list of questions we developed for asking at informational interviews.
Finally, read more about job shadowing in our article, Job Shadowing Tips Checklist for Teens, Students.
See also the tips, tools, and advice we offer in our Job and Career Resources for Teenagers.
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.
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