Conducting the Most Effective Informational Interviews

So, you have no idea what you want to do and you are a hands on person! Why not consider doing an informational interview.

What is an informational interview?

An informational interview gives you the opportunity to talk to people who already work in a job or industry that you are interested in exploring. Literally, this is you, the job-searcher going out and learning about a day in the life of any particular job.

Why do informational interviews?

As you know, there are so many jobs out there, and so many job titles. In fact when I recently did my own Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and compared it to the jobs my personality type would qualify for, over 100 job titles came up! I’m happy with my job as a Career and Whole-Life Coach but likes to stay up to date on market trends.

By the way, I strongly feel that using personality assessments and comparing them to job titles to discover the right job is a TERRIBLE approach to job discovery. If you want to know more please read my blog on The Five Biggest Reasons Why Using Job Titles For Career Discovery Is A BS Approach.

Having over 100 job titles to choose from is ridiculous and many of the titles either didn’t exist anymore, weren’t relevant, or weren’t clear. Even the ones that were clear to me, like Project Manager, have so many facets to them that unless you were to meet with five or six project managers in different companies and industries, you would truly have NO IDEA what they did for a living.

One of the best ways to learn about what a job title means and what those people do are to conduct informational interviews where you can actually discover what someone actually does day to day in their job – because that’s what the job is… it’s the day to day tasks!

How do I conduct an informational interview?

SaskNetwork suggests that the following steps should be taken:

  1. Identify your strengths, and the occupations you wish to learn about
  2. Identify who to interview
  3. Arrange the interview
  4. Prepare for the interview
  5. Do the interview
  6. Follow-up

What do I ask in an informational interview?

I suggest you consider asking any of the following questions but not all of them. Stick to the ones that are going to give you the best idea about what the most important parts of the job are to you. For example, if you have a personal value to live in a three story mansion, then you should ask about maximum salary in this industry or a range of salaries. If you value work-life balance then you should ask about overtime or on-call requirements. Here are some examples of informational interview questions also from SaskNetwork:

  1. On a typical day in this job, what do you do?
  2. What training or education is needed for this type of work?
  3. What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
  4. What part of this job do you find most satisfying? Most challenging?
  5. How did you get your job?
  6. How easy is it to get ahead or advance in this career if you want to?
  7. What entry-level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
  8. What are the salary ranges for jobs like this one?
  9. How do you see jobs like this changing in the future?
  10. Is there a demand for people in jobs like yours?
  11. What special advice would you give a person entering this field?
  12. What types of training do companies offer people in this job?
  13. What do I need to know and what experience do I need for this job?
  14. Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?
  15. What do you think of the experience I’ve had so far in terms of entering this field?
  16. What problem areas are there in working in this field?
  17. If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?
  18. With what you know about my education, skills, and experience, what other fields or jobs would you suggest I research further before I make a final decision?
  19. Who could you recommend that I should talk to next? When I call him/her, may I use your name?

Tips & Tricks

First, it’s important to note that an informational interview is not a job interview! You are not asking for work but instead asking for information and advice. Remember informational interviews can help you expand your labour market information and gain access to the hidden job market, obtain insider advice, practice your interview skills, become a more impressive job candidate.

Source: Some information was adapted from SaskNetwork

Christopher is the CEO and Founder of Change My Life Coaching —  a fast growing whole-life coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind.  He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”. Christopher spent 10+ years working in the corporate world with a plethora of industries and companies. His focus was primarily in planning, strategy, and leadership of change management and communication. Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker who truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him at Christopher@ChangeMyLifeCoaching.ca.

Christopher is the Chief Value Officer and Founder of Change My Life Coaching and Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching and the Healthy Transformations Weight Loss & Inflammation Reduction Program. Change my Life Coaching is a fast growing whole-life, leadership and business coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind. He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”. Christopher spent 15+ years working in the corporate world with a plethora of industries and companies. His focus was primarily in planning, strategy, and leadership of change management and communication. Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker who truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him at clawrence@ChangeMyLifeCoaching.ca.

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