Informational Interviews are Very Helpful

By Nicole Ackman

One of the best ways to learn more about internship opportunities and careers is the informational interview with people in those industries. And who better to interview than Elon alumni? You can find them in the Elon Job Network (Mentor’s tab).  Hundreds of alumni have signed on to help you, and welcome the opportunity to talk with you.

The best thing you can do for an informational interview is to prepare well for it. So make sure to have a list of questions ready to ask your interviewee. Here are some great questions you can ask to start a conversation:

1. What does your average day look like? Asking this question can reveal a lot about the actual work and provide insight about the company’s culture. You can also get a great sense of how much variety that job offers.

2. What is most appealing about your job? This is a fairly obvious question, but for a good reason. It’s a great opportunity for your interviewee to tell you the good things about the job and the company.

3. What is your biggest challenge about your job? Knowing the downsides of a job and company is perhaps even more important than knowing the good aspects.

4. Which skills are needed for this internship? The answer to this question lets you know what you need to work on between now and graduation. Your interviewee might say you need to develop skills with a particular software, or just to develop a professional quality, like organization.

5. What is your company looking for in an intern?  One of the only ways to discover the answer to this question is to ask someone who works there. It’s one of those topics that you often cannot find answers to in online research.

6. What advice would you offer someone coming into this field? What advice would you offer for someone applying for this internship? Make sure to pay attention to his or her response and use whatever he or she says.

Don’t forget: If you’re meeting someone for coffee or lunch for an informational interview, you should always offer to pay. Plus, follow up with a thank you note or email afterwards.

For more information on informational interviews and ideas for questions to ask, check out these websites:  How-to-land-and-ace-an-informational-interviewNon-awkward informational interviews

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