What to Ask in an Informational Interview

Informational interviews are a great way to grow your network and uncover hidden job opportunities. In fact, if 80% of jobs are never posted online, this is the number one way to uncover the word-of-mouth positions that are opening up all the time. 

Start by asking your friends, family and peers who they know that might be a good connection for you in the industry you want to work, and then widen your circles from there. 

Have your friend or family member make an email introduction. 

Follow up with your new contact and graciously invite them out to coffee for 20 minutes. Who doesn’t have 20 minutes??? Tell them how they can help you and why you are requesting their time. 

Do your research in advance. 

Check them out on LinkedIn. Look at their bio on the company website. Follow them on Twitter. Research their organization. Prepare at least three to five questions based on your research that will feed your pipeline for looking for work. 

Get there early. Offer to buy their coffee. 

Tell them your 30-second life story and your 10-second elevator pitch. Be clear, specific and succinct about what you’re looking to do and how they can help. Make their life easy; they have given you their time, so don’t waste it by talking in circles or asking them questions you could find answers to online. 

Consider asking at least one of these five questions:

  1. Given what I’ve told you about my job search and career trajectory, are there any organizations you think I should look into and research?
  2. Where do you network? What associations, groups, or Meetups do you think I should join or attend? Are there any conferences you think would be good for me?
  3. Is there someone you think might be helpful for me in my search for xyz work that you’d be willing to make an introduction to? Or who are the thought leaders in your line of work that you respect, trust and think I should follow? 
  4. Are there any professional development opportunities you think I should know about? If I want xyz job, do you think I need more education or are there any certifications you think might be useful for me in my career?
  5. Do you know of any volunteer opportunities on a board or committee that might be good for advancing my skills and knowledge of the sector and network? 

Asking these types of questions can go a long way towards feeding your job search pipeline.