Want to find out more about a company, industry, or career path? (This is definitely something you want to do as often as possible while you’re going through your degree program or growing your LIS career.)
It’s tough to beat the “insider information” and insights you can get from a good informational interview. But because you’re asking someone to give up some of their time for you, it’s important to be focused and thoughtful during the time they spend with you. That means you want to think about your questions well in advance so you can not only come up with thoughtful questions but also think about good follow-ups to your interviewee’s answers.
Here are some starter questions that should help you gather useful information and potentially lay the groundwork for additional exploration.
- What are the types of activities you engage in on a weekly/monthly basis?
- What are the aspects of your job you most enjoy?
- What are the aspects of your job you least enjoy?
- Were there things that surprised you about the job once you began working in it, and if so, what were they?
- What skills do you feel are most important to be successful in this type of work?
- How would you describe the company culture here, and at other similar companies in this industry (if known)?
- What do you see as the future of this career path?
- How would you like to see your own career path develop?
- Do you feel this industry offers strong employment growth opportunities?
- How do you stay current with the profession? What do you read, what conferences do you attend?
- What advice would you give to someone considering this career, company, or industry?
- I assume that you love your job here, but if you were to work for a different company doing this type of work, what company would you want to work for?
Informational interviews can be a terrific way to explore career paths, companies of potential interest, and specific types of work. But they’re also a great opportunity to impress a potential job contact with your professionalism and diligence, build your network of professional contacts, and help you get comfortable speaking with those who might end up interviewing you (like for a potential job!) – if you approach them thoughtfully and with advance preparation.
Informational interviews put you in positions where you can ask questions, discuss alternative career paths, get insights from insiders on job and industry pros and cons, and in general figure out if this is a career path of potential interest to you.
Consider them an important part of your LIS career toolkit.