How to Answer These 6 Informational Interview Questions The Right Way
Don’t feel like reading? Listen here!
Typically, when job seekers reach the interview stage, both parties are prepared both to seek and to give information during a formal job interview. However, a traditional job listing may not provide the full picture of a given position or allow you all of the information you need to feel fully prepared. That’s where informational interviews can make a big difference.
Informational interviews provide a way for potential interviewees to get the inside scoop on their intended career track while allowing professionals to make connections and build relationships with potential mentees. As a job seeker, it is imperative that you enter this space and approach your informational interview questions the right way.
What Is an Informational Interview?
An informational interview is a series of questions that provide entry-level job seekers an opportunity to get inside information about a career path they’re interested in. They can meet industry experts ahead of them in professional developments who can act as guides and mentors.
Whether you’re preparing for a job interview or just feeling out your career options, it’s important to understand that an informational interview is not necessarily a prelude to a job interview or position in the company.
This is simply a meeting that provides a qualified job-seeking individual the opportunity to accomplish some of the following:
- Connect with experts
- Gain inside information about a chosen industry
- Learn how professionals have achieved their current roles
- Help you map a path for your future
The 6 Most Common Informational Interview Questions
Knowing what to expect and how to maximize the short amount of time the meeting provides will help you get the most out of your informational interview.
As a job seeker, bringing along a list of open-ended questions from which to choose will provide you with an opportunity to access important information without wasting time trying to think of which informational interview questions to ask.
1. What does a workday look like for you?
According to Cathleen Garcia, HR Manager online learning platform Skill Success, this is one of the top questions she notes for informational interviews.
There’s a reason why.
We ask this question to get a grasp of how you approach your work and how you manage your task effectively. You need to emphasize what you do on your most productive workday and how you are an effective employee. You can also share how you overcome obstacles and challenges.
During an informational interview, asking what a typical work day looks like can not only give you the big picture of how a position works, but it can also allow you to see how certain people handle those responsibilities in real life.
This will give you a chance to envision yourself in a similar role and determine if this is really the sort of thing you want to do.
2. How did you first break into the industry?
This open-ended question will provide you with important details about entry-level jobs in the industry and allow the professional to lead the conversation with details about both their personal journey and career path.
Be prepared to follow up with more specific questions if necessary.
These may include questions about any of the following areas:
- Entry-level opportunities
- Recommended professional development
Depending on the amount of time your interview allows, you may be able to glean quite a bit from this informational interview question alone.
3. What strategies do you recommend for someone hoping to enter this career field today?
At this point in the informational interview, if you’re not already taking notes, be sure to start. This question could be the key you need to take your job search to the next level.
Because positions are frequently available but not advertised publicly, this question could mean more to your job search than you imagine, potentially leading you to the inside track of how to find future opportunities in the industry.
You may very well learn names, techniques, and even particular opportunities that you can follow up on in the future.
If time allows, this could also prove a good opportunity to discuss the current methods you are already using and learn how they can be maximized.
4. Can you take a look at my resume?
It’s never a bad idea to have a copy of your job resume or portfolio available during an informational interview.
Though there may not be time for your conversation partner to read it thoroughly in the moment, you may be offered a chance to hand off the resume or forward it along later for a more in-depth answer down the road.
A review and potential audit of your resume can let you know how prepared you truly are for future job interviews. It can also save you from wasting time with an insufficient or inefficient version.
5. Do you think I’m a strong candidate for an entry-level position in your field? Is there more I could do to prepare?
This two-fold question will allow you to find out exactly how prepared you are for your next interview and if there are additional strategies that could give you an edge over the competition.
Be prepared to take some criticism, knowing it won’t be in vain. Whatever critiques offered can be used to improve your chances of future job interviews.
- Your resume could use an upgrade
- You could stand to pad your education with additional courses
- You skills and experience aren’t quite on point for the job you’re seeking
Although it might feel painful in the short-term, this is a great time to get an inside look at the details of your potential career path. Most positions look different from the inside and outside points of view. Hearing from someone who’s actually done the job can help you understand if you have what it takes and what steps may be required moving forward.
6. What’s the best way to contact you in the future?
When it’s time to close your informational interview, exchanging contact information is a smart move. This can provide you with an ongoing professional connection in your chosen industry.
Asking for a specific form of contact gives you the opportunity to show that you value their time and preferences, while also assuming you’ll be able to keep the connection alive.
Whether your industry expert has agreed to talk more in the future or simply wishes to be polite, be sure to treat their contact information with respect, always bearing in mind that your first communication should be a thank-you for their time and attention.
The Bottom Line on Informational Interviews
An informational interview is a great way for potential job seekers to gather valuable information about an industry that interests them.
An informational interview is the first step to building a career network in your chosen industry.
Understanding how to conduct an interview and what not to do during an informational interview can help you get the start you need.
Prepare for Interview Questions and More With Lensa
Here at Lensa, we have the tools to help you level up in your career. Along with preparing you for the types of informational interview questions you might face, we also have a wealth of resources to help you further your professional development.