An informational interview is a wonderful way to network and a fantastic way to learn more about a career in which you are interested in possibly pursuing. And these types of interviews don’t just provide solid information to those interested in corporate careers.
If what you are interested in most is starting your own business rather than working for someone else, an informational interviews is a way to find out what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and learn more about what running your own business entails. These types of conversations can also help you make a well-informed decision about whether running your own business fits into your vision for your life and career.
If you’re considering starting your own business or you’re not sure which direction to take in your existing business, informational interviews provide you an opportunity to ask a few questions that can help you discover your options. Be sure to bring an updated resume with you. This will help you outline your skills with the entrepreneur and discuss any holes in your experience that you might want to consider filling.
If you think you’ll need help getting your resume in order when it comes time to write, consider putting a free resume builder to use. You’ll get step-by-step guidance on how to craft a winning one, with dozens of templates to choose from, plus pre-written bullet points to help you along.
Through these meetings, you’ll either get confirmation that your chosen path is a good fit, or decide that there are too many red flags for you to ignore. In either case, more information means better decision making, so either outcome is good!
5 Tips for Arranging Informational Meetings with Entrepreneurs
- Time is money. Don’t be surprised if not everyone you ask for an informational interview agrees to talk to you. In fact, not everyone you reach out to will even respond. People are busy, so when requesting a call or a meeting, keep it short and sweet.
- State your case. In your email, say who you are and what you want in no more than a couple of sentences. Explain why you’d like to meet and what you’d like to learn about their work.
- Ask for information only. Make it clear that you’re not asking for a job. If a person thinks you’re going to ask them for a job, it puts too much pressure on them and they might not want to talk to you.
- Be flexible. Ask if they’d be willing to meet for coffee, or talk by phone for 10-20 minutes. Emphasize that you’ll work around their schedule.
- Be prepared. Read as much as you can about their business so you can avoid asking obvious questions you can find the answer to online. Research the interviewee on both their company website and on LinkedIn, and check out the company’s social media sites.
Here is a selection of questions for entrepreneurs you might want to ask once you secure a meeting:
Standard Questions for Entrepreneurs
- How did the idea for your business come about?
- What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
- How did you come up with the name for your company?
- How did you raise funding for your venture?
- How do you build a successful customer base?
- How do you market your business, and which tactics have been most successful?
- What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?
Personal Questions for Entrepreneurs
- How many hours a day do you work on average?
- Can you describe/outline your typical day?
- How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
- What motivates you?
- How do you generate new ideas?
- What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
- What are your ideals?
- How do you define success?
- Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
- What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
- What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Tips and Advice-based Questions for Entrepreneurs
- What piece of advice would you give to college graduates who want to become entrepreneurs?
- If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
- What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
- What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in?
Miscellaneous Questions for Entrepreneurs
- Who has been your greatest inspiration?
- What business-related book has inspired you the most? (or, What is your favorite book?)
- If you had a magic stick, which are the three things you would change in the world?
- What is the part of your life experience you would alter if you had the chance to?
- If you were to write a book about yourself, how would you name it?
Hopefully you’ve found these questions for entrepreneurs useful. Know that the entrepreneur you have an informational interview with could have a few questions for you, too. Get prepped by checking out common interview questions (and answers) in LiveCareer’s Interview Questions section. Also access resources that allow you to build a resume and build a cover letter in no time at all.