An informational interview is an important activity when it comes to job search. Basically, it’s a conversation with someone who works in your field or at a company you’re pursuing. It allows you to not only network your way into the field or company, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn some insights you might not find with basic online research.

But in order to get the most out of these conversations, you need to ask the right questions. Here are five questions you should ask when you meet someone for an informational interview.

1. What do you love most about your job?

This question is designed to give you some insight on what makes the job rewarding or fun. It’s also a great conversation starter if you’re not sure how to break into the conversation.

2. How did you end up working here?

Understanding the journey of the person you’re talking with can help you figure out what you need to do in order to earn a job at the company. That’s why this is a great question to ask during an informational interview.

3. What’s the most surprising thing you learned about doing this job?

You always want to keep an eye out for red flags about a company or role, and an informational interview is a great tool to uncover them. This question is designed to subtly reveal details about the job or company that might not be advertised.

4. What kinds of projects do you get to work on?

You should learn as much about the actual work as you can, especially if this person has a similar role to the one you’re pursuing. This question can help you get an idea of what your day-to-day work will be like at the company, if hired.

5. How would you describe your company culture?

Again, this is a great question to uncover any red flags about the company culture without asking outright. Getting a feel for the company culture before you accept a job is so important. If you get locked in and the culture is toxic, you’re going to struggle.

Want to connect with Longwood alumni for informational interviews? Longwood makes it easy to connect with fellow alums using the new Professional Circle platform, which gives you exclusive access to professional development opportunities, digital and regional events, newsletters and other resources. This tool will make it easier for you to identify people you should chat with about your industry. Have you joined your Professional Circle through Longwood yet? Learn more now!

Ariella Combs

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