Ask an Alum: Sample Informational Interview Questions

Choose a few questions and be sure to tailor them based on any research you’ve conducted on the company or the contact.

About the Individual

  • What would you say is the best path to this career?
  • What attracted you to this industry, your company, and your job?
  • What do you enjoy most about this industry, the company, and your job?
  • What aspects of your career have you found most and least rewarding and why? Any regrets?
  • What are your educational and career backgrounds? What would you do differently if you were starting over?
  • What do you see as possible next steps for you? What career expectations do you have in the short and long term?
  • What are you most excited or concerned about for this industry/company/career path in the future?
  • If you were in the job market tomorrow, what would you do?

About the Job

  • What are your primary responsibilities? How do you spend your time?
  • How do you value/measure your results and effectiveness?
  • What do you do in a typical day or week? How much time are you in meetings, on the phone, on the road, and working in teams versus working independently?

About Skills

  • What skills are most critical to your success?
  • What weaknesses in a person’s skill set would make him or her ineffective in this business?
  • What are the most valuable skills in your job? Which experiences enabled you to develop these skills?
  • How do you keep skills current? What do you read? What professional associations do you belong to? What seminars or continuing education do you consider useful?

About the Company

  • What would you do differently if you ran this company?
  • What are the common misconceptions about working in this company?
  • What do you see as the biggest competitive challenge for your company?
  • What are some of the defining characteristics of the individuals who have been hired by your company in the past for this position?

About the Industry

  • What have been your biggest surprises in this field?
  • What are the common misconceptions about working in this field?
  • What motivates you to continue in this business? What do you like most?
  • What are the vulnerabilities of this business? What worries you?
  • What biases or barriers to entry does this business have in terms of hiring practices?
  • What do you expect of people starting out in this field? What educational and personal qualities in candidates attract you? How do you determine a candidate’s compatibility for the field, including education, personality, and cultural considerations?
  • Can you recommend others I can talk to about this field?
  • What are some of the ways I can become familiar with the industry jargon?

About Yourself

  • What kind of job responsibilities could I expect given my background and experience level?
  • What strengths and weaknesses do you see in my current background?
  • Is there anything else you think would be helpful as I consider this field?
  • Looking at my résumé, what advice would you have for me on next steps if I were interested in this industry/company/career?