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An informational interview is a valuable tool for gaining knowledge about a specific career. The purpose of an informational interview is not to inquire about a job but rather to gain insight and advice about a particular career field or position. Summer is a great time for informational interviews, especially in fields like coaching, when schedules are lighter. Reach out to your network to find the right person or target a specific organization that interests you. Utilize LinkedIn to search for connections in specific career fields and ask about an informational interview.
Once you have set up the informational interview, spend time preparing for it. Research the career field, organization and even the person with whom you will meet. Update your resume and bring it with you. Remember you are in charge of the informational interview so have your questions ready. Here are some top questions to ask for a successful informational interview.
- Why did you decide to pursue this career field?
This is a good question to start the informational interview, as it will give you a basic understanding of where the person is coming from and why they chose the particular career or position.
- What previous professional experiences have helped you most?
This will help you determine if there are specific skills or educational requirements needed, as well as a good way to discuss their work history leading up to their current position.
- What is your typical workday like and is there anything that is unexpected or surprising about your position or career field?
This will give you an understanding of the reality of the career on a daily basis and what to expect if you were to pursue a position in that field.
- What is something that would have been helpful to know when you were starting out your career?
This will help determine if there is anything you should know ahead of time about the particular career field or advice they would give to get into the career field.
- What do you find most fulfilling or rewarding about your career?
It’s important the career field matches up with your values and this question could help understand the positive outcomes of the position and whether it would be a good fit for you.
- What qualities and skills are most important to succeed in this career field?
This will help you gain insight as to what they look for in a qualified candidate and determine where you stand, as well as your next steps, toward entry into the career field.
Informational interviews are a great tool to gain knowledge about a career field and help plan next steps.