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How to Initiate an Informational Interview and What Questions to Ask

How to Initiate an Informational Interview and What Questions to Ask

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By Tiffany Sappington
Career Coach,  APUS

Informational interviews are a great resource to consider throughout your career. You can utilize them to build your network, pursue a specific career path, make the jump into management or transition to a new career entirely. The best approach for initiating an informational interview is to simply put yourself out there and actively seek out professionals who can provide you with real-life advice.

Initiating an informational interview using LinkedIn is a great option. Make sure your profile is up to date and prepare a short introduction to begin your conversation. Utilize the “Career Advice” hub located within the dashboard of your LinkedIn profile. Edit your preferences and let LinkedIn suggest users to you.

Questions for an Informational Interview Vary, Depending on the Job You Seek

The questions you’ll use during your informational interview will vary, but you might begin with “Hi, my name is ___. As a respected professional in your field, could I please elicit your advice on ___.”

Then, provide a very short background of why you are asking for this particular information. Here are some sample questions you can reference.

Questions to ask as an entry-level person:

  1. What is your educational background? Do you recommend pursuing the same or different programs/paths?
  2. What is a typical day like for you?
  3. What are some challenges you face?

Questions to ask when you’re considering supervisory roles:

  1. How do you stay organized?
  2. How did you know you were ready for the jump?
  3. What can I do to be a great manager/supervisor?

Questions to ask when you’re transitioning careers entirely:

  1. What skills do I need to be successful in this career field or industry?
  2. What hurdles did you face when transitioning and what advice can you provide?
  3. What made you choose this career field/industry/company?

Follow Up after Your Informational Interview

Always follow up with a “Thank you” (perhaps in the form of a personalized connection request). Be engaged with your new connection and like, share, and comment on his or her content. Continue this process to receive different points of view and further expand your network.

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