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?
- 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?
- 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?