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Published
May 7, 2022
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Updated
June 28, 2022

Informational Interview Guide

Dave Fano

Informational Interviews can be one of the most effective ways to grow your career. Informational Interviews are meetings to exchange information and no other intent than networking and learning.

Informational Interviews can be one of the most effective ways to grow your career. Informational Interviews are meetings to exchange information and no other intent than networking and learning. Often they are initiated by a person looking to learn more about a career path, job title, company, or industry. A common aspect of informational interviews is reaching out to someone you don’t know. To make that process a little less daunting and easy to approach, below is a small presentation we put together on running successful informational interviews as well as guides and temples. 

Template For Informational Interview Request:

Hi [name],

I hope this message finds you well. I’m reaching out because I am exploring a career change and would love to learn more about [mention something specific here related to their occupational field or industry].  Would you be willing to hop on the phone for 20 minutes to discuss your career so far and give some insight into your industry?

If you’re open to this idea, I am available to speak at the following times in the next two weeks:

[INSERT A BULLETED LIST OF DATES AND TIMES]

Please let me know if one of those dates and times works for you and the best way to reach you, and I’ll send over a calendar invite! Thank you for taking the time, and I hope to speak to you soon!

Thank you,

[name]

Template For Informational Interview Follow-Up:

Dear [name],

It was so nice to meet with you today! Thank you for taking the time to answer my (many) questions and share your career journey.  I especially loved hearing about [something you enjoyed talking about].

I look forward to staying in touch as I continue figuring out my next step. I definitely plan on using your advice to [piece of advice that stuck with you]. Thanks again, and let me know if I can be any help to you in the future!

Best,

[name]

Informational Interview Questions:

Choose 5-8 questions from the list below to ask during a typical 20-30 min informational interview.

Career

  • Can you tell me a bit about your career path and what led you to the role you're in today? 
  • What were some of your early roles in the field?
  • What past work experiences helped you most?
  • What do you wish someone would have told you before you started this career?
  • If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
  • What skills do you think are most important for someone interested in a job like yours?
  • Do you think there’s a personality type that’s not well-suited for this kind of career?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?

Company

  • Why did you decide to work for this company?
  • What do you like most about this company?
  • How does your company differ from its competitors?
  • What is the company’s relationship with its customers?
  • What does the company do to contribute to its employees’ professional development?
  • What technology does your company use?
  • What systems are in place to enable employees to give management feedback and suggestions? 
  • How would you describe the atmosphere at the company? Is it fairly formal or more casual and informal? 
  • Is there a basic philosophy of the company or organization? What is it? (Is it a people-, service-, or product-oriented business?) 
  • What can you tell me about the corporate culture of this company?
  • Is the company’s management style executed from the top downward, or do frontline employees share in the decision-making?
  • Is there flexibility in work hours, vacation schedule, place of residence, telecommuting, etc.?
  • What work-related values are most highly esteemed in this company (security, high income, variety, independence)?
  • How does the company acknowledge the outstanding accomplishments of its employees?

Current Job

  • Why did you choose this job?
  • How did you get this job?
  • What are some big projects you’re working on now or that you’ve finished up in the last few months?
  • What does a work day look like for you?
  • What's the greatest challenge your department faces?
  • What's the biggest challenge for your job?
  • What's the most important preparation for a role like yours?
  • What's the most rewarding part of your job?
  • What would surprise people about your daily work?
  • How will this job change over the next 10 years?
  • What do you enjoy most about the work you do? / What are you most excited about right now?
  • What do you enjoy the least? Or, is there something that surprised you about the role when you first started?
  • Do you know the typical salary range for this type of role?
  • Do you recommend anyone else that I should talk to in order to learn more about this type of role?

General

  • Are there any questions I'm not asking that I should be? 
  • What networking or industry-related groups do you recommend joining?
  • What publications or books do you recommend to read?
  • Is there anyone else you recommend for me to speak to?
  • Would it be alright for us to stay in touch?

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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