200 Informational Interview Questions to Ask

LiveCareer Staff Writer
by LiveCareer Staff Writer
 
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Informational interviews are an underutilized strategy in the job search process. Most often suggested by college career centers to upcoming graduates, informational interviews provide you an opportunity to discover information about an industry you’re interested in as a jobseeker. It lets you test your assumptions about the industry, a company, or a specific role.

Still not convinced of the value of an informational interview? A recent survey found that 85 percent of all jobs are filled through networking, making the informational interview a critical tool in any jobseeker’s toolbox.

During this one-on-one conversation, you may ask informational interview questions about a particular occupation to help you learn more about a position. If you’re a college graduate or planning to make a career change, informational interviews are a great way to learn more so that you can make an informed decision about whether it’s a job you really want or not.

Finally, an informational interview can help you leverage yourself as someone who is professional, who’s interested in the field, and as someone this company may want to hire sometime in the future.

Below, we have written 200 informational interview questions you could ask during this type of meeting. While it isn’t possible to ask all of them during a 30-minute session, this list can help you narrow down the most important questions.

85 percent of all jobs are filled through networking.

Informational Interview Questions: Job Title

  • What is your exact title?
  • Do other people in the company with the same job title have the same responsibilities?
  • What was your title when you first started working here?
  • Can you give an overview of the duties, functions and responsibilities of your job?
  • What is a typical day like?
  • What percentage of your time is spent doing each function?
  • Is your job what you thought it would be when you started?
  • How much job security do you have in this position?
  • What kind of decisions do you make?
  • How does your time use vary? Are there busy and slow times or is it fairly constant?
  • How much flexibility do you have in determining how you perform your job?
  • What projects have you worked on that have been particularly interesting?
  • Is there a great deal of turnover in this job?
  • How would you assess your prestige or level of status in this job? In the company?
  • How does the company evaluate your job performance?
  • What are the major qualifications for success in this occupation?
  • What qualifications would you be looking for if you were hiring for a position such as yours?
  • What qualifications would you be looking for if you were hiring for a position subordinate to yours in the office?

Informational Interview Questions: Field

  • What are the various jobs available in this field?
  • How can I write a resume that will appeal to employers in this field?
  • What types of training does this company offer those who enter this field?
  • In what ways is this occupation changing?
  • How is the economy affecting this industry?
  • What is the employment outlook like in your career field? How much demand is there for people in this career?
  • How quickly is this field growing?
  • What are some areas of growth in this field?
  • Can you estimate future job openings?
  • What parts of this industry offer the best opportunities in this particular field?
  • What are the opportunities in this career like in [geographical area you’re interested in]?
  • Is this industry heavily regulated?
  • What do you find unique about your career field?
  • From everything you’ve observed, what problems can you cite regarding working in this career?
  • When people leave this career, what are the usual reasons?
  • What are the most significant characteristics of this industry?
  • If I am unable to obtain a position in this field, what other fields would you recommend I consider?
  • Do you have any advice for someone interested in this field/job?
  • What should I do to prepare myself for emerging trends and changes in this field?
  • How would you assess the experience I’ve had so far in terms of entering this field?
  • Would you mind taking a look at my resume to see if you have any suggestions?
  • How would you react if you received a resume like mine for a position with this company?

Informational Interview Questions: Entry-Level Positions

  • What are the typical entry-level job titles and functions?
  • What entry-level jobs offer the best opportunities for learning?
  • What trends in the field would be most likely to affect someone just entering this career now?
  • What kinds of people experience the greatest success in this field?
  • What is the most important thing someone entering this career field should know?

Informational Interview Questions: Skills

  • What are the skills that are most important for a position in this field?
  • What particular skills or talents are most essential to be effective in your job?
  • What are the skills that are most important for a position in this field?
  • How did you learn these skills?
  • What are the skills that are most important for a position in this field?
  • Is multitasking a skill required for this job?
  • These are my strongest assets [skills, areas of knowledge, personality traits and values]. Where would they fit in this field?
  • How can I assess whether or not I have the skills needed for a position such as yours?
  • With the information you have about my education, skills, and experience, what other fields or jobs would you suggest I research further before I make a final decision?
  • Who else do you know who is doing similar kinds of work or uses similar skills?
Informational interviews are an underutilized strategy in the job search process. Most often suggested by college career centers to upcoming graduates, informational interviews provide you an opportunity to discover information about an industry you’re interested in as a jobseeker. It lets you test your assumptions about the industry, a company, or a specific role.

Informational Interview Questions: Salary and Benefits

  • What is a typical entry-level salary in this field?
  • What are the salary ranges for higher levels in this occupation?
  • Is there a salary ceiling?
  • 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 does the company reward?

Informational Interview Questions: Work-Life Balance

  • Aside from monetary compensation, what kinds of mental dividends (such as job satisfaction does this career yield?
  • What sacrifices have you had to make to succeed in this field, and do you feel the sacrifices were worth it?
  • What kind of hours do you normally work?
  • Do you have to put in any overtime or work on weekends?
  • Are the time demands of your job specific to this company, or would anyone in your position be expected to work these hours?
  • Do you ever take work home with you?
  • What obligations does your employer place on you outside of the regular work week?
  • What social obligations go along with a job in your field?
  • Are there organizations you are expected to join?
  • Are there other things you are expected to do outside of work hours?
  • How has this job affected your lifestyle?
  • To what extent does this job present a challenge in terms of juggling work and family life?
  • Is there flexibility in work hours, vacation schedule, place of residence, etc.?

Informational Interview Questions: Dealing with Conflict

  • What kind of problems do you deal with?
  • What do you do if you can’t solve a problem on your own?
  • Do you deal with a significant amount of conflict in this job?
  • What systems are in place for dealing with conflict?
  • What constraints, such as time and funding, make your job more difficult?
  • Describe some of the toughest situations you’ve faced in this job.
  • What are the major frustrations of this job?

Informational Interview Questions: Collaboration & Teamwork

  • To what extent do you interact with customers/clients?
  • Which other departments, functional units, or levels of the hierarchy do you regularly interact with?
  • Is your work primarily individual, or do you work in groups or teams?
  • How are work teams or groups organized?

Informational Interview Questions: Personal Opinions

  • What are your interests and in what way does this job satisfy those?
  • What do you like and not like about working in this job?
  • Do you find your job exciting? Are there aspects of your job that are repetitious?
  • If you could change anything about your job, what would it be?
  • What interests you least about the job or creates the most stress?
  • If you ever left the job, what would most likely drive you away?
  • If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?
  • How optimistic are you about the company’s future and your future with the company?
  • What’s the best thing about the company?

Informational Interview Questions: Educational Requirements

  • What are the educational requirements for this job?
  • What types of credentials or licenses are required?
  • Is graduate school recommended? An MBA? Some other graduate degree or certification?
  • How important are grades/GPA for obtaining a job in this field?
  • How do you think the reputation of [name of your college] is viewed when it comes to hiring?
  • What courses should I be taking?

Informational Interview Questions: Organizational Structure

  • What is the job title of your department head or supervisor for this job?
  • Where do you and your supervisor fit into the organizational structure?
  • How many people do you supervise?
  • What is the job above your current job?
  • Do people in your department function fairly autonomously, or do they require a lot of supervision and direction?
  • Is the company’s management style top-down, or do front-line employees share in decision making?

Informational Interview Questions: Plotting a Career Path

  • Does your work relate to any experiences or studies you had in college?
  • How well did your college experience prepare you for this job?
  • What courses proved to be the most valuable for your work?
  • What courses do you wish you had taken that might have prepared you for the career?
  • What do you feel is the best educational preparation for this career?
  • How did you prepare for this work?
  • If you were entering this career today, would you change your preparation in any way to facilitate entry?
  • In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
  • What was your major in college?
  • How did you get your job?
  • Did you enter this position through a formal training program?
  • What jobs and experiences have led you to your present position?
  • What kinds of things did you do before you entered this occupation?
  • Which aspects of your background have been most helpful?
  • What other jobs can you get with the same background?
  • What were the keys to your career advancement?
  • How did you get to where you are and what are your long-range goals?
  • If your job progresses as you like, what would be the next step in your career?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • If your work was suddenly eliminated, what kinds of work do you feel prepared to do?
  • How does a person progress in your field?
  • What is the highest-level job one can hold in this career?
  • What is a typical career path in this field or organization?
  • What are the advancement opportunities?
  • How rapidly do people move to the next level in this career?
  • What incentives are there for staying in the same job?
  • Would someone in this field need to relocate to advance in his/her career?
  • If I performed well at this company, where could I expect to be in five years?

Informational Interview Questions: Company Culture

  • 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?
  • 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?
  • What other technologies are integral to the company’s operation?
  • What are the people like with whom you work?
  • 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?
  • What is the company’s mission statement?
  • What can you tell me about the corporate culture?
  • What’s the dress code here? Is it conservative or casual? Does the company have specified dress-down days?
  • Can men wear beards or long hair here?
  • What work-related values are 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?
  • How does the company recognize outstanding accomplishments of its employees?
  • 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?

Informational Interview Questions: Company’s Needs & Future Growth

  • 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? Do you new products and/or services being developed?
  • What areas of the company would be most interested in hiring people with my background?
  • 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?

Informational Interview Questions: Changing Careers

  • My current career is [job title]. How easy or difficult do you think it might be to make a transition from that career to your career?
  • The skills I use the most in my current career are [skill] and [skill]. To what extent and in what ways do you think those skills are transferable to your career?
  • What aspects of my background do you feel would be the most helpful in making the transition to your career field?
  • What aspects of my background do you feel would be the biggest obstacles to
    someone making the transition to your career field?
  • What skills needed in your career field do you think someone in my current career might be lacking and might need to develop?
  • What would be the best kind of training to get to make the transition from my current career to your career?
  • What’s the best way for me to get more experience in your field without taking
    major steps backward from the level to which I’ve progressed in my current career?
  • How do you think someone in my current career would be viewed by those with
    hiring power in your career? Would you personally hire someone coming from my current career field?
  • The things I like the best about my current career are:
    Will I find some of those same things if I switch to your career?
  • The things I like the best about my current career are:
    Will I find some of those same things if I switch to your career?
  • The things I dislike the most about my current career are:
    Will I encounter any of those same challenges in your career?
  • Do you know of any other people in your career who have made the transition to your field
    from my current career or a career similar to my current career? How did the transition work out?
  • I’ve heard that people in your field have characteristics such as [example] and [example],
    which I have not had the opportunity to develop yet. How important are those characteristics?.
  • Knowing what you know about your career field, and knowing what I would have to do to
    get into this field, do you think you would make the change if you were me? If not, can you
    suggest any other fields that might be more appropriate for me?
  • Could you take a brief look at my resume and suggest ways I could tailor it to make myself
    more marketable in changing from my current career field to your career field?

Informational Interview Questions: General Advice & Referrals

  • Can you suggest some ways a person could obtain the experience necessary to enter this field?
  • What is the best way to obtain a position that will get me started in this occupation?
  • What do you wish you’d known before you entered this field?
  • Do you know of other people whom I might talk to who have similar jobs?
  • Which professional journals and publications should I be reading to learn about this career?
    Are there any other written materials (such as company brochures) that you suggest I read?
  • What kinds of experience, paid or unpaid, would you encourage for anybody pursuing a career in this field?
  • Which professional organizations associated with this career should I join?
  • What other kinds of organizations hire people to perform the functions you do here?
  • What special advice do you have for a student seeking to qualify for this position?
  • Do you have any special world of warning or encouragement as a result of your experience?
  • Do you have any written job descriptions of positions in this field/company?
  • If I wanted to obtain a job here, who would the best person to contact?
  • If I wanted to apply for a job here, what would be the best way to learn about job vacancies?
  • If you were conducting a job search today, how would you go about it?
  • Would you be willing to answer more questions, by phone or in person, if I need additional advice in the future?

Want to write a resume that will impress during your next informational interview? Try our resume builder. Our builder helps you write an attractive, customizable, professional resume in a matter of minutes. Start from scratch or upload your existing resume.

About the Author

LiveCareer Staff Writer

At LiveCareer, we live and breathe the belief that we can help people transform their work lives, and so do our contributors. Our experts come from a variety of backgrounds but have one thing in common: they are authorities on the job market. From journalists with years of experience covering workforce topics, to academics who study the theory behind employment and staffing, to certified resume writers whose expertise in the creation of application documents offers our readers insights into how to best wow recruiters and hiring managers, LiveCareer’s stable of expert writers are among the best in the business. Whether you are new to the workforce, are a seasoned professional, or somewhere in between, LiveCareer’s contributors will help you move the needle on your career and get the job you want faster than you think.

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