June 18, 2018

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Add Power to Informational Interviews

An informational interview, also known as a research interview, is your opportunity to speak to individuals that are in the position to offer you advice, support, and guidance regarding your job search or career transition. This is your chance to establish contacts, assess your marketability, and gain "insider" information on your field of interest. An informational interview differs from a job-hunting interview because the focus of the interview is on acquiring information that may be difficult to obtain otherwise.

To get the most of an informational interview, you should prepare questions in a specific sequence. Doing so will allow you to build rapport with your contact, and you will avoid the common mistake of immediately asking work-related questions.

Below is a suggested sequence and sample questions you can use.

Ask questions about the person you are interviewing

  1. What attracted you to this industry, your company, and your job?

  2. What do you enjoy most about this industry, the company, and your job?

  3. What aspects of your career have you found most and least rewarding and why? Any regrets?

  4. What else should I know about this field?

Ask questions about their organization

  1. In what areas do you see your company expanding? What developments do you expect in this industry? Do you predict development of new products and/or services?

  2. How is your company preparing for these changes? Is it training its staff?

  3. What obstacles do you see getting in the way of the company’s profitability or growth?

  4. What is the work atmosphere like here? How is employee morale?

Ask questions about their field of work

  1. How does a person progress in your field?

  2. What is the highest-level job one can hold in this career?

  3. What is a typical career path in this field or organization?

  4. What advancement opportunities are there?

Ask questions about exploring opporutnities within the field

  1. What strategies would you be using if you were in a job search for a position in this field?

  2. Would you mind reviewing my resume and giving me feedback on it?

  3. What types of questions should I expect when interviewing for a job in this field?

  4. How are positon openings announced to people otusie of the organization?

Ask for referrals

  1. Would you be willing to refer me to other people in the field who might have additional information? May I say you suggested I contact them?

  2. Could you suggest an industry trade publication that lists job openings that fit my qualifications?

  3. Have you heard of organizations that have been expanding? Choose to conduct informational interviews with people who are excited about what they do and are willing to be truthful on what it takes to be successful.

Don’t take up too much of their time. An informational interview should last no more than twenty minutes.

-Linda Matias Recognized as a career expert, Linda Matias brings a wealth of experience to the career services field. She has been sought out for her knowledge of the employment market, outplacement, job search strategies, interview preparation, and resume writing, quoted a number of times in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and She is President of CareerStrides and the National Resume Writers’ Association. Visit her website at or email her at

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