Informational Interview Sample Questions

Informational interviews are the basic building blocks of career development. It allows you to quickly gain insights from people who have the jobs that you may (or may not) want. During the internship, it is essential to have as many informational interviews with people in the organization as possible. Not only can you learn the culture, but it also allows you to learn how career development happens and also gains you exposure in the company. Informational interviews are also something MBA students do on a routine basis during the program, to learn more about the various career opportunities.

A few tips upfront

1) Always go into the informational with questions prepared.

2) Be flexible and let the conversation deviate from your questions when you hit something that interests/excites you.

3) Always start and end on time, as 30 minutes is a lot of time for someone who is working full time.

Including the internship, I've probably done about 60-70 informational interviews this past year. This is definitely on the low end when compared to my consulting classmates. Here are some of my standard questions that may serve as a template for people who are just getting started.

Sample questions to start with

1. Spend about 2-3 minutes to share an update on your projects or experiences. The person you are interviewing may be involved with job placement or recruiting down the road so showcasing how well you are doing and how excited you are about what you are doing creates a positive impression.

2. Please tell me about your roles and responsibilities. 

3. What experiences did you need in order to get your current position?

4. What are your next two roles?

5. By now the conversation may go into an unexpected direction, depending on what you found to fit your career goals. Keep digging in that direction if it's important.

6. One question I've found to be useful is, What surprised you most about your position? This typically leads to something really insightful and difficult to find elsewhere.

7. I always have 1 or 2 unique questions I ask each person. It's best if that person is the only source to get the answer to that question. Make sure it's not something you can just Google or read in an article. For example, I never ask about industry trends. This is something I feel confident I can do on my own. By asking non-obvious questions it shows that you are thoughtful and appreciate the person's time and experience.

Well thought-out questions are a must. Not only can you impress the person you are interviewing, but you also get the most out of it in terms of hard-to-obtain insight. After awhile, you'll start finding common threads among people who are successful. That's when you know you've likely found a universal truth to success.

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