6. What characteristics have you noticed that enable a person in your field to succeed?
7. What kind of education and training is needed for this job?
8. Where do you see this industry going in the future?
9. How do you stay current in your field and “on top of your game”?
10. Is there anyone else you recommend I can talk to in relation to this career/field?
These are by all means just suggestions, so feel free to choose the ones you like and add your own. It is a good idea to ask one or 2 questions to demonstrate you’ve done your research and therefore prove your sincere interest. Asking something related specifically to the field or a related article about the person are a couple ways to do this.
After the Interview
So you asked some great questions, got some invaluable insights, and thanked them for their time. Now what? Send another thank you! They’ve done you a great service, show your appreciation. An e-mail is one way to do this, but according to Darren at www.darrenbarefoot.com, a thank-you card is “extra classy”. That sounds like a lot of brownie points to me. (If you want more great tips on informational interviews, click here.)
Another good idea is to jot down any notes immediately after the interview – especially things that struck out at you. You can take notes during the interview if you like, but as it is quite brief, it’d be better to devote your time building that relationship and getting to know your interviewee and their position.
Self-reflect. It’s not cheesy! Think about what you’ve learned from the interview. After all the aim is educational. Are you still interested in the position? Why or why not? Did the interview dispel any preconceived notions you had of the position? What skills and training do you need to gain in order to make yourself competitive? The list goes on.
Just a few more tips and reminders…
I know I said it at the very beginning, this is NOT a job interview, but please do keep this in mind. Be sincere and honest. At the same time, this still has a potential to become a job interview later. If you are truly skilled at being subtle, you may even be able to do it during the informational interview. Be careful – You can really turn people off if you make them feel deceived.
Send a follow-up of some kind: handwritten note, e-mail, a card. In a job interview, those who get remembered and eventually hired do this. It’s also so helpful when trying to be remembered after an informational interview.
Dress professional. This is not as formal as a job interview, but it is still important to look nice. Business casual should be fine.
An informational interview is a great educational tool in learning more about your career and field of choice. If you are considering a job change or are unemployed, seriously consider an informational interview. Now that you know, try it!