How Students Can Get Insider Information About Potential Careers With These 8 Informational Interview Questions

By their senior year of high school, your teenager is expected to have a pretty clear idea about what they want to do for the rest of their life. That’s a lot of pressure for a teen! 

To decide with certainty, they should understand:

  • What the path to get to their dream career will be like
  • If they will actually love it when they get there

And it all starts with asking the right informational interview questions! The right questions help your teenager get the insider information they’ll need to decide on their dream career. 

The Importance of Informational Interviewing

An informational interview is when a student reaches out to a professional who is already working in an industry they want to pursue to ask them for some information about what it’s like.

The main goal of informational interviews is to help students figure out what they want to do and what type of environment they want to work in!

After an informational interview, your student will:

    • Learn what it’s really like to do a specific job. Students will get to learn what it’s really like to do that job instead of what they imagine it to be (or what the media portrays it to be).
  • Discover strategic ways to get to where they want to be. Students can save time and money by learning insider tips and strategies to get them into their dream profession.

8 Informational Interview Questions Your Student Needs To Ask To Get Insider Information About Careers

To start conducting informational interviews, reach out to friends or members of your community to find a professional in your student’s field of interest. Then encourage your student to schedule the time and place of the interview. If possible, it’s always best to visit the professional at their office. 

Once it’s scheduled, you’ll want to prep your student with a mock interview. 

Teens might be nervous or overwhelmed when interviewing a professional for the first time. It can be hard to know exactly what to ask to get the insider information they are looking for. 

Prepare your teen to ask professionals these 8 informational interview questions to get insider information about potential careers. 

1. Describe A Typical Day.

First, students should ask the person they’re interviewing to describe a typical day for them. Their response will give your teenager a glimpse into what they’re life might look like. Can your teen imagine themself succeeding in that kind of situation?

Have your teenager consider what they would want in a typical workday. Are they…

  • A people-person who needs lots of time to interact with others everyday?
  • Collaborative and want to work regularly with a team?
  • An independent worker who would rather spend most of the day doing their own thing?

Also, have them think about the kind of work structure they will do best in – whether it’s a typical 9 to 5 or a more flexible schedule.

2. What Do You Love and Dislike About That Day?

After they’ve asked the professional to describe a typical workday, have them follow-up by asking:

  • What do you love about your workday?
  • What is something you don’t look forward to?

Of course, not everyone will like every single part of their workday. And your student might actually love what the professional doesn’t look forward to. 

Every now and again we have to do something that can be boring or challenging. But either way, the good should outweigh the bad for the experience to be worth pursuing. Knowing these extremes will help your teen enter their chosen profession with their eyes wide open.

3. How Did You Get To Where You Are? 

To give your student an idea of the credentials and degrees it takes to reach a particular profession, have them ask the professional how they got to where they are.

Hearing about the kinds of opportunities professionals took and the skills they learned in route to their career can help your teen streamline their own process to get there.

Plus, students are often amazed at the winding path that some professionals take to end up where they are! Knowing this can take a lot of pressure off of your teen. It can remind them that even if their path isn’t what they initially expected, they can still end up in a place where they are happy and successful.

4. If You Could Have A Do Over, What Would You Do Differently? 

Experienced professionals have the advantage of hindsight. They have the experience to look back and see what they could (and perhaps should) have done differently. 

When a student conducts an informational interview, they should keep in mind what lessons were learned and avoid the most common mistakes. Knowing about the kinds of roadblocks and obstacles that other people faced in route to their career can help your student prepare for them ahead of time. 

5. What Surprised You Most About This Field Of Work?

Students should also ask what surprised the professional most about their field of work. 

Sometimes, professionals will report pleasant surprises… 

And other times, they are not so pleasant. 

When it comes to their career, it’s better for your student to be prepared than blindsided. Have them use this opportunity as a chance to learn to expect the unexpected!

6. Why Have You Stayed With It?

After hearing a lot of the trials and tribulations that it took for people to get where they are, your teen might be wondering if it’s really worth it to pursue a certain career path after all. 

Have your student ask the person they are interviewing why they stay in their line of work. 

Also, encourage your student to really think about what motivates them to stick with things. What sorts of things keep them fulfilled enough to keep going? And will that be available to them in this industry?

7. What Advice Would You Give Me Just Starting? 

Toward the end of your interview, take a moment to ask the interviewee directly for advice. 

Asking the professional what advice they would give someone just starting out will be crucial, because your teen will get:

  • Advice that’s better for someone entering the discipline now (rather than when the professional was entering the discipline)
  • The most applicable information that’s specific to them and not just any student 

8. Who Else Should I Talk About This Work?

Getting perspective from one professional is incredibly valuable. But getting the perspectives of many professionals will really set your student up for success. 

Before they wrap up the informational interview, your student should ask about who else they should talk to about the work. 

Not only will it be great to hear another professional’s experiences, but they’ll also be starting to network in their potential future career. 

Putting Insider Information to Use

After your student conducts their informational interviews, it’s time for them to put that insider information to use. 

Have them create a pros and cons list about the career path from the information that they learned in the interview. Do the pros outweigh the cons for your student?

For your student to really know if the career they’re interested in will be a good fit for them, they need to be honest with knowing themselves. They need to have a clear understanding of their stressors, needs, and strengths and see if they match with the career they want to pursue. Bright Futures Consulting offers Birkman Signature Reports to help students articulate their strengths and identify career paths they will thrive in. For more information, schedule a free consultation.

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