Tips for Grads: Questions to ask in an informational interview

By Foram Gathia, PhD student

Conducting informational interviews is a valuable way to gather insights about a particular career path, industry, or company. Here are some insightful questions to ask during an informational interview:

  • Background and Experience Questions:
    • Can you tell me about your career journey and how you got to your current position?
    • What educational background or experiences have been most valuable in your career?
  • Industry and Company Questions:
    • What trends do you see emerging in this industry?
    • Can you provide insights into the culture and values of your company?
  • Day-to-Day Responsibilities:
    • What does a typical day or week look like in your role?
    • What are the most challenging aspects of your job, and how do you overcome them?
    • What skills are essential for success in this role?
  • Career Growth and Advancement:
    • How do opportunities for growth and advancement typically unfold in this industry or company?
    • Are there any professional development resources or programs available?
    • What advice would you give to someone aspiring to a similar role?
  • Networking and Next Steps:
    • Are there any other professionals in the industry or company you recommend I speak with?
    • Can I keep in touch with you for further questions or advice?

Remember to listen actively and take notes during the informational interview. Express gratitude for their time and insights afterward and follow up with a thank-you email or note. These questions can help you gain valuable knowledge and insights to inform your career decisions.

These tips are based on the university Adult Career and Special Student Services’ webpage on informational interviewing as well as the Harvard Business Review article “5 Questions to Ask During an Informational Interview”.

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.