An informational interview is not an interview to land a job, but instead to gain more information about an industry, company, job title, and so on. In an informational interview, you make an appointment with someone to quiz them over any questions you might have about their profession. That being said, if you are having trouble thinking of valuable questions to ask, this list will help you get started!
How did you get started doing _____? Why do you like _____?
Finding out someone’s background is a good way to see what your potential career track might look like. It also arms you with more knowledge to ask further questions, like if the person has a relevant degree, how long it took them to advance from position to position, and so on.
What do you do to stay current in the industry?
This question can give you some good ideas for what you can do to stay current as well. Do they read books or a magazine in the industry? Is there a news site that you should be following? Keeping up with your industry is important to stay relevant, whether you are currently seeking jobs, working, or none of the above.
What kind of candidates do you usually seek for ____?
You can also ask about what qualities they seek in their future employees, which may give you some areas to work on. Ask about experience, education, extracurricular activities, software knowledge or anything else you are interested in or that is relevant to your industry.
What would be your best recommendation for someone in my position looking to become _____?
Near the end of the meeting, the person you are meeting with should have a better idea of your experience. He or she may recommend taking a certain class, becoming certified in something, or another tactic that could put you above other applicants in your field. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
Remember that the best informational interviews answer whatever questions YOU have. While this list is a good starting point, be sure to ask whatever interests you!