Barb Bruno shares the questions you should ask and explains how asking the right questions will dramatically impact the results of your informational interviews.
- The best information regarding an occupation, industry, or company is not available online. It comes from the professionals working in the field. And if you don't take time to prepare a list of questions for your informational interviews, you're going to be wasting your time and your contact's time, and that's something you can't afford to do. Let me share the questions you should ask and explain how asking the right questions will dramatically impact the results of your informational interviews.
As we go through these things remember, you're asking for advice, not a job. Begin by creating an outline focused on topics which provide the results you want to achieve, then follow each topic with three specific questions. Ask your contact about their career path. You'll learn how they started and what they did to advance in their career. Their inside perspective can help you determine if you're targeting an industry you could envision for yourself long-term.
Questions about skills and credentials could uncover roadblocks that could prevent you from currently pursuing your target. You may realize you need additional training, certifications, skills, or an advanced degree. These are great things to know before you make a decision to change careers. Next, ask about a typical day and number of averaged hours worked. Your contact can share the good, the bad, and the ugly of their occupation.
My friend, who was an experience sales rep, had always wanted to work for a Fortune 100 company and was ecstatic when she was hired by a leading tech company. Within six months, she was traveling 75% of the time and had no personal life. As a result, she ended up resigning. She would've uncovered the high travel demands if she had conducted informational interviews. During your questioning, you can also ask about the current and future state of the industry you are targeting, and if new career paths are emerging due to changes or technology.
When you ask questions about a specific company culture, core values, or goals, you can determine if they align with your own goals. This helps you determine if this company offers the right environment for you to flourish. When you conduct informational interviews, you're meeting with key decision makers and expanding your professional network. When these people are willing to take time to provide you with advice, they'll often open their network and provide you with additional contacts.
Ask if there's anyone else they would suggest that you talk to. The type of questions you ask have a direct impact on the results you'll enjoy. At the same time, you'll get inside information and interview experience. As a result, you'll become more comfortable meeting with key decision makers which will help you ace future job interviews.
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- Compare an informational interview to a job interview.
- Identify companies and contacts to interview.
- Prepare for an interview, by researching questions and updating your résumé.
- Conduct an informational interview.
- Analyze the results from your interview.