When networking or conducting informational interviews, use open-ended questions to create an engaging conversation.
Be strategic and do not ask questions that are too personal.
To prepare for these discussions, create a key list of questions that will allow you to navigate the conversation. Here are some questions to get you started.
What to ask in your informational interview:
- Tasks and Responsibilities
- What does a typical workday look like?
- Could you tell me about your work or a recent project?
- What aspect of your job do you ﬁnd most challenging/rewarding?
- Do you more often work individually or as part of a team?
- Can you describe the typical work/life balance in this ﬁeld?
- Preparation for Career Path
- How did you become interested in this ﬁeld?
- Is there anything you wished you knew before entering this ﬁeld?
- What do you think is the best academic preparation for this profession?
- What are the qualiﬁcations you look for in a new hire?
- What else should I know to make an informed decision about choosing a career in this ﬁeld?
- Are there any internship experiences you might recommend or other ways to gain exposure to this field/industry?
- What are the promotion and advance practices?
- Do you have any recommendations for other people I should speak within the ﬁeld to learn more? May I use your name when reaching out?
- Industry Knowledge
- What industry publications would you recommend I read to help keep me informed of developments in this ﬁeld?
- What are the entry-level roles?
- Is the advice you have passed on to me regarding this sector typical of the industry, or is it speciﬁc to your organization?
- Are there any professional associations that you are part of or suggest I join?
- Where do you see this industry going in the next 5 years?
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Before asking some of the following questions, we encourage you to do some preliminary research to dig further when speaking to someone at an organization you hope to work for.
- What does the leadership team (or board of directors) look like? How diverse are they?
- What is the organization’s policy or mission statement regarding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)?
- What actions are they taking to support DEI initiatives?
After you do your preliminary research, you’re ready to connect with someone at the organization and dig into some of the topics below.
- What is the organization doing to support its commitment to diversity and inclusion outlined on its website?
- How does leadership support and reflect diversity and inclusion for the company?
- How are those values communicated with and shared with employees?
- How does the organization demonstrate an inclusive environment? Does it feel inclusive?
- Have you experienced inclusion in the workplace? If yes, please describe your experience. If no, what is your experience and what would you like to see/areas for development at your workplace?
- What support, initiatives, and/or training around diversity and inclusion are in place for employees once they have joined your organization? ( i.e., onboarding processes, affinity groups, mentorship programs, leadership development, etc.).
- How active are employees within the areas? What expectations are communicated with respect to engagement in this work?
- Can you give an example of how your organization has responded when you have identified gaps in this work?