Friday, September 10, 2010

Choosing a Career: Questions to Ask on an Information Interview

Now that you have some informational interviews set up you need to prepare for them.  Treat them like a real job interview.  Dress appropriately, find out some information about the company, and be professional.  You may be applying for a job with this company in the future and the person you are talking to could be a good reference point for the Human Resources department later on.

Now, what questions should you ask?  These questions can give you a better idea of the job that you are seeking to find:
  
  • What are the duties of a person employed in this job?  What does a typical day look like?  How much does that vary from day to day?
  • What kind of education must someone in this position have?  What kind of education is helpful but not necessarily required?  What can be learned on the job? 
  • What kind of work experience would be helpful?  Is an internship required?  Where would a person start in this company if they wanted to fill this position? 
  • What “key words” would they suggest you include on your resume? 
  • Who do they interact with most in their position?  What are their positions? 
  • What is the salary range?  What can you expect as a starting salary? 
  • What kinds of frustrations or demands can you expect to encounter? 
  • What types of technology are used? 
  • What do they wish they had known before they started this career?  What information would have been helpful to them when they were just starting out? 
  • Can they suggest others that would be helpful or would be willing to talk to you about this career?

You might think of other questions that are directly related to the field that you want to work in so feel free to add them.  Just make sure you phrase them professionally.

Now, before closing on the topic of informational interviews, remember that the person you have been talking to has done you a favor.  So, not only should you thank them when you leave but you should also send them a thank you note.  Let them know that you appreciate their time.

And, if you follow up on any of their advice, send them an email to update them.  Keeping your name fresh in their minds could turn into a job opportunity in the future!

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