Monday, April 8, 2013

Five questions to more powerful informational interviews

Informational interviews are a wonderful way to get personal, first-hand knowledge into a particular career field or position that you are interested in. If someone is gracious enough to spend time talking with you, however, you want to make it worth your while...and theirs.

The quality of the questions that you ask is critical to elicit the information you desire. Your questions need to be both interesting as well as to probe for deeper information. Add the list below to you cache of effective informational interview questions to get at the heart of your career area of interest:

  1. What excites you about this position/field? Tap into the emotions of the person you're interviewing by asking them what thrills them about the work they do.
  2. What about this position/field has surprised you? Every field or position looks different from the inside than from the outside. This question will probe into those unexpected aspects that you would be wise to be aware of.
  3. What about the position/field keeps you up at night? A light-hearted question that goes deeper into the problems and issues that are a part of the position or field, ones that produce a significant amount of stress or anxiety.
  4. What relationships have been essential for you to establish? An excellent question to ask to learn more about the important relationships that are necessary to be successful in this field or position. You may be surprised about who your interviewee makes connections with to be successful.
  5. How does this position speak to your values? A question that is as poignant as it is personal, learning more about the values that drive your interviewee in his/her work will give you a clearer picture of how yours do or do not correspond. 
Make the most of any informational interview by being prepared with strong questions!

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