5 Helpful Questions for Informational Interviews

Have you ever wanted to talk to someone in an industry of interest, but you didn’t know what to ask them? Have you wanted to connect with Penn alumni, but you’re feeling intimidated by the conversation?

Informational interviews are incredibly helpful when you are trying to broaden your network, learn about different jobs/companies/fields, and gain advice about your job search. But they can also feel scary! Here are some ideas of questions you can ask of the person with whom you are speaking:

1) What do you find most rewarding about your work?

We all want to feel fulfilled in the work that we are doing. By asking this question, you can get a sense of what fulfillment might look like in that particular role. If the answer is also exciting to you, it may be a career path to consider!

2) If you were a college student and had to do it all over, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

This question can be incredibly helpful if you are still a student or are early on in your program at Penn. It can help you get a sense of what classes, activities, work experiences, etc. might be helpful for you if you are intending on following the same career path as this person.

3) How much flexibility do you have in terms of working hours and location, dress code, vacation, etc.?

Now more than ever, flexibility at work is highly valued. If you are speaking with someone at your dream company, it can be helpful to get an insider’s sense of how much flexibility you might have as a future employee. Knowing this ahead of time can help you make decisions about where you want to work!

4) How do you spend your time during a typical day or week?

It can be hard to know what exactly is involved in a job until we do it ourselves – or talk to someone who does it everyday. Asking this question can help you understand what an average day might look like, and how much of the work is routine or new.

5) What do hiring managers in your company look for in resumes and cover letters?

The person you’re talking to may not be able to get you an internship or a job, but it can be helpful to know a bit about what their company looks for in the hiring process. This advice may help you stand out in your next application!

Want to know more about informational interviewing? Check out our guide!

By Jillian Cener
Jillian Cener Associate Director, Engineering