With these 10 questions at your fingertips, that will never happen to you!
For every informational interview, of course, go in prepared with as much information as you can possibly acquire. Research the company; even more importantly, give the person’s LinkedIn a thorough review. Find out where she went to college, where she worked before this, her full job history.
If you want to ensure you hit it off, give her a quick stalk on Twitter, find out a few of her interests and see if you can naturally work one into the initial chit-chat portion of the meeting.
And then, once a bond is established and she knows you came into the conversation armed and ready, start asking…
1. I saw that you spent X years doing [experience], but how did you start out in this industry?
After the small talk (don’t skip the small talk), make sure they’re aware that you’ve done your research. Phew, they’ll think. I don’t have to waste time explaining my entire career path to this idiot when it’s right there on my very public LinkedIn page. You’re already ahead of the game.
2. Is there something you wish you’d known or a skill you wish you’d had starting out?
This is a question that will almost definitely get you some useful information. Always take advantage of the opportunity to learn from other people’s mistakes.
3. What’s the culture like here at [company] compared to [previous company]?
In all likelihood, this person has worked at one or more comparable companies. Take the opportunity to get a comparison from the best possible source.
4. What’s your biggest challenge in this role?
If this person’s job is one you hope to do one day, this is a great way to get a better sense of what it takes.
5. What do you dislike about this company?
Unlike a hiring manager, random employees will actually give you dirt on a company.
6. Would you mind taking a quick look at my resume?
If this person has any hand in hiring people for this company in any capacity, you want her to take a look at your resume, which you should have on hand at all times. She can point out flaws that you didn’t even know were flaws.
7. How does my experience stack up to others currently in this role?
Again, this is only if the person has any hand in hiring.
8. What type of personalities fit in best at your company?
I think this is an absolutely crucial question for any informational interview or official job interview, because certain companies have a definite “type.” And you now have the chance to find out if that type is you before you even apply.
9. What is the best way to get my foot in the door here?
Don’t let the conversation end without any tangible next steps. If you want to work at this company, ask what more you can do.
10. Is there anyone else you think I should speak to?
If you hit it off, Judy will say something like: “You know who should talk to? Ned. Let me give you his email address.” Maybe Judy can’t help you any further, but Ned probably can! And now you come recommended by someone who trusts you enough to make a new connection.
Approach your next informational interview almost like you would a first date. Be ready. Be friendly. Be casual. Be interested in the other person. And by all means… ask good questions!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Levo League!
About the Author: Kelsey Manning is a Notre Dame graduate who is passionate about great books, writing, fashion, and social media done well. She works for former Cosmo Editor-in-Chief Kate White and is a freelance writer. Previously, she interned for Hachette Book Group and Ave Maria Press in marketing and publicity roles. Kelsey has also written for Crushable, The Grindstone, and NextGen Journal, and her work has appeared on Fast Company and Business Insider. Follow Kelsey on Twitter @kelseyMmanning.