101 Ways to Find a Job – Way #5 Informational Interviews


It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out in your career, mid-career, or late career, informational interviews are a great way to network to locate your next job. So what exactly is an informational interview?  Exactly what it sounds like. You’re talking to professionals either doing the job you want, in the industry you want to be in, or a hiring manager who employs the type of individuals with the same skills you have.

The main reason to conduct an informational interview is to network and find a job. Only, instead of coming out and asking for a job you’re asking for information that hopefully will lead to a job.

The topic of conversation will depend upon who you’re speaking with.

Determine who to speak with.

If you’re just starting out in your career you should focus on speaking with a mid level hiring manager.  Mid level managers will most likely be the decision maker on a position that you would qualify for. You might also consider speaking with a senior level professional who isn’t a manager.  A professional at a senior level could possible act in a team lead capacity and could recommend you for a job.

If you are mid career then it’s acceptable to speak with a senior manager or a director as these are the individuals you might report to.  If late in your career you can target a senior manager if you’re searching for a management role.  If you’re an individual contributor, target a mid level manager.  At this point you want to speak directly to a hiring manager.


Topics to cover when starting out in a career.

If you’re just starting out in your career your focus for the conversation should be related to how you can show a hiring manager that you’re ready to get to work.

Following are some questions to ask:

-What types of skills do you look for when interviewing individuals who are just starting out in their career?

-What does it take for someone to be successful when starting out in their career?

-What type of work does someone with my skills start out doing?

-What would be your guidance for progressing in the field?

-What trends in the industry would affect someone just starting out in the field?

-What challenges do you see for someone starting out in their career?

-What type of training would someone need to progress in their career?

-What is the career path at your company for someone just starting out in their career?  How long does it take to progress to each level?

-How did you get to where you are?

-Ask them if they would review your resume to see if they have any recommendations on how to improve it.

-It’s also acceptable to ask if they know of any jobs in their company.  You can also inquire if they know of any jobs at other companies in that industry.

-Inquire if there is anyone else you should speak to in their company.

-Inquire if there is anyone else in the industry you could speak to.


Topics to cover mid-career.

If you’re mid-career your focus on the conversation should be regarding the industry, the specific company, and the manager’s personal job.

Following are some questions to ask:

-What are your job responsibilities?

-What’s a typical day like?

-What challenges do you have in your career?

-What type of professionals report to you?

-Do you perceive any holes in skills in your department?

-Why did you decide to work for the company?

-What challenges do you see for the industry?

-How is your company ready to match the challenges?

-How much flexibility do you have in making decisions?

-What do you like best about your job?

-What do you like best about the company?

-What do you like best about the industry?

-What is the background of an individual who would be most successful in their department?

-Ask if you can describe your skills. (Note: make sure that your 30 second elevator speech covers some of the topics already discussed.)

-Inquire if there are any jobs for someone with your skills?

-Ask if they know of anyone else you should be speaking with regarding possible jobs?

Before you leave, ask if you can give them a copy of your resume.  Let them know they have permission to forward your resume on to their network if they feel comfortable doing so.


Topics to cover for late career.

Here you want to focus on the industry, the person’s success in the industry, and the skills needed to help move the industry forward.

Following are some questions to ask:

-What made you go into this industry?

-What do you see the industry doing right?

-What challenges do you see for the industry?

-What do you see the future to be for the industry?

-What skills to you see being needed in the industry?

-What leadership skills do you see needed in the industry?

-What makes you successful in this industry?

-What holes in talents are you missing?

-What skills does your company value?

-What’s the culture like in the company?

-Do you see future career opportunities in you company?

-Inquire if you can tell them about your skills.  (Note: your 30 second elevator speech should cover how your skills match what they have described.)

-Inquire if there are any other individuals you should be talking to in their company?

-Inquire if they could send your resume to their network?


You may not be comfortable asking them to forward your resume to their network; however, keep in mind you’re looking for a job.  Remember, the person can say no if they’re not comfortable.  But they could say yes.


High school and college students

Another type of informational interview can be to help determine if a particular job or industry is for you. These types of interviews are great for high school junior and seniors as well as college freshman.  By talking with individuals doing the job you think you want to do could help you prevent wasting time if you find out that you may have picked the wrong career.

Following are some questions to ask related to career/industry:

-What types of jobs are available in this career field?

-What is the employment outlook in this field?

-What would be a career path for someone in this career field?

-Is the field growing?

-How does the economy effect the career fair?

-Is there a lot of overtime in the career field?

-What do entry level jobs look like?

-What type of salary is available for entry level jobs?

-What’s the best thing you like about this career field?

-What kind of challenges face this career field?

-Are there jobs available for entry level professionals in this field?

-What types of skills do you see a person needing to be successful in this field?

-What is the best piece of advice you can give to someone just entering the profession?

-What kind of problems do you deal with?

-What makes your job difficult?

-Who do you interact with in your job?

-Do you like what you do? Why?

-What are some of the major projects you’re working on?

-What college courses do you see being the most beneficial?

-Are there any colleges you would recommend?


How to find people to talk to.

You can use LinkedIn to research professionals to speak to and to connect with them. Then, you can either send them a note through LinkedIn, or call the company and request to speak with them.  Be sure to let them know that you are requesting an informational interview in order to research the industry for job opportunities. If you’re just starting out, or researching the career field for the first time, let the person know that you’re trying to decide if that particular career is for you.

If you’re in college talk to your career center to see if they can help you make contact with the right person.  If you’re in high school, your career counselor can help you.

Finally, be sure to collect the contact information for any of the individuals you speak with.  As you progress in your career these individuals will become part of your network.



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