Informational Interviewing

Steps to Follow | Sample Questions to Ask

An informational interview is a meeting with a networking contact in which you (the job seeker) ask the questions. Properly done, the informational interview can be one of the most effective tools in your job search. The goals of this meeting are:

  • To learn more about the day-to-day responsibilities of professionals employed in a career field of interest
  • To determine potential career paths with a specific employer or within an industry
  • To gain knowledge about recruiting practices for an employer of interest or within the industry
  • To identify other contacts may be helpful in the job search.

This contact could lead to a potential job offer. Preparation for this meeting should be similar to an actual job interview. Background research, careful question formulation, dress, and business etiquette are critical to a successful interview. Face-to-face interviews are best; however, telephone interviews are acceptable.

Steps to Follow:

  1. Identify an appropriate networking contact. This person could be a classmate, former co-worker or supervisor, family contact, faculty member, or friend. Need help identifying someone? Talk with your Career Advisor about how to set up a LinkedIn profile and join the BU Mentor group. BU Mentor is a group of parents of other Bradley students, alumni, friends of the university (employers, retirees, etc.) and fellow students all of whom are very helpful contacts.
  2. Telephone or e-mail the contact to request an interview. Explain the nature of your visit and why this meeting is important to you. Request a 30-minute appointment unless the contact offers something longer.
  3. Research the organization prior to the interview. Helpful research sites include LinkedIn and
  4. Develop a list of interview questions (see sample questions). Be creative. Do not copy this list. Also, be careful not to waste time by asking simple questions which could be answered by visiting the employer's web site.
  5. Brush up on your interviewing skills. You never know if this interview could turn into an informal interview for a job.
  6. Dress nicely and arrive 10-15 minutes before the scheduled interview time. It is appropriate to take notes during the interview, but be careful not to let it interfere with your conversation.
  7. Send a thank you note or e-mail immediately following the interview.
  8. Occasionally send a card or e-mail to the networking contact to keep him/her abreast of your job search and career development.

Sample Questions to Ask:

  • How did you become interested in (field)?
  • How did you get started in your field?
  • What career path did you take to reach your current position? Is this a "typical" path, or has it changed?
  • Could you describe your work day? Tell me what you like about your job/field? Tell me what you dislike?
  • What kind of skills do you use as part of your day-to-day job? What skills would you suggest a current student work on while at Bradley?
  • What college courses have helped you out the most during your career? Why? What courses would you suggest to someone interested in your field? What do you think is the best educational preparation for a career in _____?
  • Which part of your job is most challenging?
  • What personal attributes do you think are essential to success in your field?
  • What are the qualifications that you look for in a (position title)?
  • What experiences have you had that you think have been invaluable to your learning the business?
  • What else do you think I need to know in order to make an intelligent decision about ______ as my career?
  • If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?
  • From your point of view, what qualities do you look for in ______?
  • What suggestions would you give to a student in regards to their resume
  • Are there other (job titles, career paths) that I should be looking at that are comparable to _______?
  • Can you suggest anyone else whom it would be helpful to talk to? May I use your name when contacting him or her?