The Top Questions You Should Be Asking In Any Informational Interview

April 7, 2015

Ah, springtime…. Melting snow, rain boots, Game of Thrones, light jackets and informational interviews. I always find students are more eager to network and ask for guidance during the spring, and I would bet I’m not the only one seeing the requests roll in. With graduation preparations taking place on every campus, it seems that students of all years are suddenly thinking about the future.

Yes, this is the second Office Space meme on the Idea Peepshow in the past two days. Isn’t that great?

Recently, I’ve enjoyed some very interesting informational interviews with students, and I’ve been repeatedly impressed. I’ve also been a part of some less-than-energetic conversations in the past — so much so that I feel compelled to offer some help.

Here, I’ve compiled a few starter questions that will get the conversation rolling in any informational interview. The questions are ranked starting with the basics, which I often hear, down to the questions I wish students would ask more.

  • What can I do to increase my chances of getting a great job right out of college? And then take notes. Good notes.
  • What do you love about your job?
  • How did you find your current position?
  • What are the characteristics you look for in entry-level talent?
  • What does an average day look like for you? There might not be an average day at all, but anyone who’s not a terrible human will walk you through what a normal day might entail.
  • What from your college experience prepared you the most for your job today?
  • How would you describe the culture here? When does your workday usually start, do you ever work from home, do you see your colleagues outside of work frequently, is it a more structured or more formal setting, what’s standard office attire, etc.
  • Are there any areas of this business that are growing rapidly; somewhere you’d suggest I look into as a potential area of focus?
  • What does the work/life balance look like here? How many hours do you work in a week? In the marketing/comm. world, the answer to the “work/life balance” question could be everything from fabulous to non-existent, and it’s important you understand what the options are.
  • What would you change about your job if you could?
  • How does my resume stack up against other resumes you’ve seen from students my year in college?
  • And my new favorite, because I’d never heard it before last week: If you had to go back to college, would you do everything the same, or would you do something different? Would you be where you are today?

What am I missing? Students, what else do you want to know? Professionals, what other questions do you enjoy answering?