The Best Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview

The Best Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview

An interlocution is presented in a variety of formats, from monologues to focus groups. But all this diversity, in essence, serves for two major functions, namely, to identify points of view on the subject under discussion or to create a psychological portrait of the interlocutor. A significant role in choosing a candidate for the post is played by an informational interview, designed to dispel doubts and make a final choice. Therefore, it is extremely important to know how not to blunder on such a serious test.

What Is an Informational Interview?

The indicated concept means conversation, related to obtaining data about an applicant for a vacancy without further commenting on them. In this kind of dialogue, there is no need for queries aimed at detailed reasoning or self-expression. Interest in the interlocutor as an individual is extremely weakened since the priority is given to the previously presented facts.

First of all, you should take an interest in the age, marital status of a candidate and other personal evidence, through which a confidential atmosphere will be established. Speaking of education, do not limit yourself to specifying qualifications, implementing calling about the learning process and favorite subjects into the dialogue. In order to define the nature and psychological characteristics of the interviewee, it is worth asking probing questions that demand a detailed answer.

An informational interview is also a great chance to get first-hand data about employment through contacts with staff. Possessing such insider information you save a lot of time and effort thanks to useful tips and advice. Being not a new invention, most people do not realize this opportunity during professional self-determination or when looking for a job. Here, a pretender plays the role of a moderator, while communication takes place by phone. The number of requests is better to calculate in advance to meet in 15-20 minutes. Although the dominant task is the establishment of bonds, the last point should be directed to see a collaborator from the interested area.

What Questions Are Better To Ask in an Informational Interview?


Surely, you have already chosen a profession and are persistently moving towards your intended aim. After seeing a suitable vacancy in one of the mailings, a resolute individual sends his resume and gets an invitation for an interlocution. Do not rush into hysteria before the upcoming conversation. Better use the remaining time to psychologically comprehend a significance of the future moment. Valuable evidence is obtained through logically posed and adequate information interview questions. Here are some of them:
  •  “What made you choose this particular specialization?” Such a beginning promises a clear understanding of duties and level of responsibility of the person sitting before the HR manager. If he decided to become a political analyst consciously, not at the insistence of his parents, it means that during student years he made maximum efforts to succeed in the academic field.
  • “What previous professional experience do you value most?” The curiosity shown to the candidate’s personal life is aimed at perceiving the culmination of his career. If an individual does not seek to develop, he undoubtedly degrades and betrays the whole crew. It is worth assessing the achievements presented because the ability to present an advertising campaign, for example, in the PR section is a necessity, not a luxury.
  • “What is the main advantage of your activity?” The purpose of this query is to identify moments that bring employee satisfaction from the workflow. It is not only about the remuneration or a cohesive team but about the possibility of attending sports clubs or dry cleaning in the company. A lot of applicants point to the diversity of tasks, which gives them a place to evolve as an expert. Flexible scheduling is also appreciated, especially if a co-worker is used to working alone or has kids.
  • “Describe the person who is able to succeed in the mentioned position?” The chief thing here is not to get carried away because you are focusing not on an abstract subject, but on yourself as an ideal representative. Start with the required qualities, unobtrusively emphasizing their presence. But do not overly idealize your own person since it is necessary to leave space to correct the bugs.
  • “In your opinion, is it worth taking additional courses to perform duties like yours?” If a pretender feels the need for advanced training, you should communicate your thoughts frankly. Honesty will make a favorable impression by recommending you as a competent professional.
Try to prepare possible answers in advance to avoid long pauses and uncomfortable interjections. The conversation should proceed smoothly and melodiously, just like between old acquaintances. Try to stay relaxed, without nervous gestures and inappropriate chuckles.

Complexity Regarding Questions for Informational Interview

Almost every person asks “Why should someone spend their time on me?” You are surprised to find that strangers are frequently not only willing to talk about your troubles, but also find pleasure in selfless assistance. Since you are physically unable to contact a large number of persons and are interested in maximizing the impact of each conversation, it is essential to choose the right candidates. First, the post should not be too low or high, so a middle manager will be the best option. Secondly, large firms willingly go to such experiments for popularizing their industry, which requires a person with extensive experience can be found on the websites of associations, seminars or conferences.

When asking for an informational interview, immediately prioritize. If during a discussion, you try to find out if there are vacancies in the company, then an interviewee may feel deceived. However, if your partner himself offers to send him your resume, be prepared to do this. You should also prepare a 15-second self-presentation and rehearse it in advance since you will not have time to adjust the selected fragments.

The Most Important Questions

The list of informational interview questions must range from seven to ten to change the direction of the conversation. For instance, you settle for the position of a sales assistant in a perfume store. You have already discussed that duties will include advising clients, working with the cashier and laying out the goods. Specify exactly how it is acceptable to advise buyers on the trading floor? Queries about functionality must be asked, even if everything seems clear and understandable to you.

Be sure to ask about the strategic objectives of your future job. A pretender for a sales manager may wonder what an off-take plan for next year. A candidate for an HR inspector is obliged to inquire about the expected increase in the number of staff. Thus, you will show that you are able to think strategically, independently evaluate your own achievements and apply the performance criteria specified during the interlocution.

Be sure to wonder what will be your first working days. This is an introductory instruction or a mentor, ready to bring you up to speed. If earlier the applicant worked in a small firm and come to an international corporation, this request is extremely significant. If the vacancy is new, it means that you have to make a work schedule yourself and discuss the responsibilities with the supervision in detail.

If the post existed long ago, a pretender has to pay attention to the reasons for the previous employee’s dismissal. Of course, they can be different, but not superfluous to learn some pitfalls of the position. It’s not a fact that the candidate will receive reliable information on such a delicate issue, but it’s worth thinking about it. The question of personal failures, as a rule, causes stupor in the interlocutor.

For a chief, it’s essential not just to enumerate situations when you have failed, but to comprehend what you perceive as the failure and how you overcome difficulties. The value of life experience is not in the number of years you have spent as the ability to move forward after the mistakes made.

Another query, which for many becomes a stumbling block, relates to the list of strong and weak qualities. If the applicant answers in a learned way, you certainly demonstrate a good knowledge of literature, a memory and an absolute lack of flexibility. Behind this calling lies not so much the desire to really learn about your positive and negative sides, as the skill to be open, to answer uncomfortable items and self-confidence.

Do not give out stamps, because each of us has a lot of flaws that have the right to live. Think about what is really inherent to you and do not be afraid to be frank. The question of seeing oneself in 5 years is aimed at revealing perspectives and intrinsic motivation. Depending on the narrative style, it is easy to see how objectively you treat yourself as a professional, whether the profession itself is interesting to you or whether you are more counted to career growth.

For some reason, all the issues affecting the field of personal relationships cause great embarrassment. In most cases, they are aimed at defining the boundary to which you are able to talk about yourself with a stranger. If you prefer not to talk about your private life, how delicately you may do it.

Consider, even if the person does not give explicit signals to end the conversation, do not abuse the framework. In this event, politely inquire if you are not violating his plans and whether it makes sense to make a call at another time convenient for him. Immediately, after the interlocution, you should send a thank-you letter focusing on the usefulness of the debate and plans to apply the heard moments. Practice shows that the more an individual wastes time on you, the more he is ready to cooperate in further.

Thus, an informational interview represents a serious challenge for both the personnel manager and the potential collaborator. Experts advise you not to make the appropriate calls if you have a bad mood, which will affect your voice. Consequently, stock up on enthusiasm so that the other person can feel the positive energy in collecting information about the profession with the help of the questions to ask in an informational interview.

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