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Everytime you hear the phrase “interview”, you instantly image a dialog with a recruiter or a attainable employer. However that’s not the one sort of interviews you possibly can have in an expert setting. 

You can even have interviews with specialists whose background or employers you admire with out making your case for hiring you. That is referred to as an informational interview. 

What’s an Informational Interview? 

An informational interview is a casual dialog you will have with somebody working in a area that pursuits you. Just like mentorship, a casual interview offers you the chance to study extra a couple of explicit function, business, or firm — additionally speak about accessible profession paths  and total employment prospects. Most casual interviews run below an hour within the type of a Q&A session. 

By attending a casual interview, you may get an inside scoop from an expert working in your area (or the one you wish to break into). Particularly you possibly can study: 

  • The realities of working in a specific firm or function 
  • Totally different specialties and sub-niches inside the occupation 
  • Various profession paths and adjoining occupations 
  • Essential expertise employers search for a specific function  
  • Trade outlook and newest shifts and modifications 
  • Additional coaching & growth actions price pursuing  

The aim of an informational interview is to point out you a spectrum of alternatives accessible, slightly than direct you in direction of a specific job. Although one in every of each twelve informational interviews leads to a job provide. It’s additionally an incredible alternative to see how your expertise, pursuits, and character would match into completely different roles. 

Whom You Ought to Method For an Informational Interview? 

Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising at Stanford College and NYT best-selling writer says it greatest:

“Let’s speak about your community, which is made up of the individuals — household, associates, acquaintances, present and former coworkers, lecturers, and neighbors — and the individuals they know. These individuals could possibly assist you get informational interviews”.

In different phrases: Take inventory of individuals . See what they’re doing professionally — then method them with a fast request for an data interview. 

If you’re not instantly seeing a superb particular person to speak to, domesticate a brand new connection. Search for individuals on LinkedIn, browse Twitter, attend a neighborhood meet-up, or get extra lively in on-line communities. The Web makes it straightforward to discover a potential “function mannequin” to look at and attain out to for steerage! 

Networking occasions, particularly, a good way to talk individuals up with reference to work — after which request an extended informational interview. So check out what’s occurring in your space or nearly. 

conducting an informal interview

Tips on how to Ask for an Informational Interview on LinkedIn

Don’t request an informational interview straight in your connection request message. Earlier than you make the ask, do some fundamental prep work:

Then ship a brief, respectful follow-up message asking for the informational interview. 

“Identify, I understand you’re busy, however maybe you will have a free slot in your calendar for networking? As I’m simply getting began in [industry], I might actually love to speak with a extra skilled skilled about [a particular relevant question]. Is that this one thing you’d be open to doing?” 

Tips on how to Ask for an Informational Interview By Electronic mail

If you have already got a “heat” connection and a verbal “yeah, we are able to do a casual interview someday”, construction your electronic mail the next approach:

Topic line:  Informational interview [Name] x [Your Name] 


Thanks once more for agreeing to speak with me about [role name/company name]. I’m accessible [your time slot options]. Does any of those overlap along with your availability? We are able to do Zoom or meet-up in particular person — whichever works higher for you. 

To maintain the dialog productive, I did some analysis about [company, role, industry] and wished to debate the next issues:

  1. Topic one
  2. Topic two 
  3. Topic three 

As soon as once more, I immensely respect your willingness to have an informational interview with me.


What are Good Inquiries to Ask in an Informational Interview?

Now that you simply’ve locked an appointment date, it is advisable put together your set of inquiries to ask in an informational interview. Keep in mind: your questions must be well-formulated and highly-personalized to what the particular person does.

By asking overly-general questions, you’re displaying the interviewer your lack of preparedness and — by proxy — real curiosity within the business. Additionally, you then miss out on getting the ‘insider’ data and simply obtain common data you could have googled up your self. 

Earlier than you go into the assembly, analysis the particular person’s background and their profession path. Attempt to perceive how they moved by their profession and what attainable takeaways they might share with you. It might additionally make the dialog really feel extra amicable and private. Additionally, don’t overlook to carry a duplicate of your resume (simply in case). 

Good inquiries to ask in an informational interview are:

  • Particular to the particular person’s background 
  • Open-ended to immediate a extra thorough reply 
  • Organized round themes — business, roles, expertise, and so forth. 

Now, let’s transfer onto the checklist of inquiries to ask in a casual interview. For comfort, we grouped all of them into themes. 

Questions Concerning the Occupation and Trade 

Informational interviews are a superb software for latest graduates and profession changers to get a greater feeling of ​​ what a specific function is definitely like. It’s additionally a good way to low-key assess for those who could also be a match for it. 

To gather this kind of data, attempt asking the next questions:

  • What made you personally choose this line of labor? 
  • Did you instantly accept this profession observe? What had been your earlier roles? 
  • What widespread traits people who find themselves profitable on this function share? 
  • Do it is advisable be good at [particular skills] to reach this business? 
  • I heard that X is a typical situation on this business. Do you assume it’s true? 
  • What forms of expertise are a “should” for candidates on this function?
  • Are there any points that frustrate you on this function? 
  • I actually like doing [specific tasks]. Do I get to do this sort of labor on this profession?
  • What forms of profession development alternatives can be found for this function? Is it straightforward to transition to an adjoining place? 
  • What do you want most about your present [role]? 
  • How is the business altering? What traits are you personally seeing? 

Questions Concerning the Firm 

If you’re bent on becoming a member of a selected firm, change a few of your business associated questions with these centered across the employer. Once more, present that you simply already did some analysis. As an alternative of asking  “what are the final firm values?”, ask one thing like “what prompted the corporate to focus extra on sustainability?”.

asking questions during an informational job interview

Additionally, it is best to keep away from bluntly asking in regards to the common compensation within the firm (except this data is on the market publicly). This could drive the dialog into awkward territory. If you wish to carry up the topic of cash, say that you simply’ve seemed up common market charges for a sure function. Then ask if these are near what the corporate is paying. 

Listed below are pattern informational interview inquiries to ask in regards to the firm:

  • What prompted you to hitch this firm?
  • I learn you’ve been with the corporate for [x years]. What prompts you to stick with them? 
  • What kind of coaching and growth alternatives does the corporate provide? 
  • How would you describe the [company culture], [management philosophy], [work environment], [standard work practices]? 
  • Is the turnover fee excessive at your staff? What’s the most typical motive why individuals go away [company]? 
  • What do you assume is one of the simplest ways to get an internship (or job) in your organization?
  • Was there one thing that stunned you when becoming a member of [company]? 

Questions About Profession Paths 

Allocate some portion of your interview in direction of discussing the complete spectrum of roles and positions, accessible inside your occupation. Your counterpart can direct you in direction of ignored choices and higher clarify what it might take to get from an entry-level place to extra senior ones. 

Attempt asking these inquiries to get the most effective insights:

  • I do know of [role 1, 2, 3, 4]. Are there some other new ones that I’m lacking? 
  • When you didn’t settle on your present function, which others would you think about? 
  • Do you assume [role/job] will stay in-demand sooner or later? In what methods would possibly it evolve? 
  • Did any unrelated skilled experiences assist you excel in your present place?
  • What expertise or experiences could be essential to develop from [role 1] to [role 2]? 
  • In your opinion, how lengthy does it tackle common to advance from entry-level to mid-level positions in [industry]? 
  • The place do you see your self in 5 years? 
  • How typically do individuals get promoted in [company/industry]?
  • Are there any certifications or additional coaching that might assist advance on this function sooner? 

Additional Inquiries to Ask 

A daily informational interview ought to offer you room to ask below 10 questions and get detailed replies. So it’s important to be strategic with which one’s you’ve chosen from the above checklist. 

You then also needs to go away about ten additional minutes to ask a few closing questions resembling:

  • Maybe another individuals in [role/industry] that I might discuss to? 
  • Are there some other questions I ought to have requested (however didn’t)?
  • Is it okay if we keep in contact? 

This triumvirate will properly round-up a dialogue, plus perhaps even lend you some extra contacts to method for an informational interview! 

Closing Tip: Tips on how to Thank Somebody for an Informational Interview

You will need to completely ship a follow-up thanks electronic mail after your informational interview. Preserve it quick and on-point. Categorical your gratitude, point out a reality you’ve discovered, and supply any additional data (if the opposite occasion requested for it). 

When you occur to be good acquaintances, you too can make a much bigger gesture by thanking them with a handwritten notice, flowers, digital present card, or some public reward on social media.


  • Elena runs content material operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works intently with copywriters, designers, and invited profession specialists to make sure that all content material meets our highest editorial requirements. Updated, she wrote over 200 career-related items round resume writing, profession recommendation… extra

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