Next Stop: Your Magazine Dream Job

4 Questions to Get the Most Out of Your Informational Interview

By Kelsey Mulvey

Looking to expand your network, get some more freelance work, or even land your dream job down the road? Set up some informational interviews.

“The goal of the informational interview is to not only get an insider view of what it is like to work in the particular industry or company but also to build a relationship,” said Nicole Williams, career expert and founder of WORKS. “You’re not asking for a job in this interaction (that’s important to remember) so the pressure is off and the person on the other side of the desk is free to tell you about themselves and their career.”

Once you set up an informational interview (pssst… here are our tips for doing so), it’s important to fill your time with thoughtful, unique questions. Why ask an editor about his or her career when you can get all of that info from their LinkedIn profile? To make the most out of your time (and leave a positive impressive), Williams shared four questions everyone should ask at an informational interview.

1. Why did you get into this industry?

“Even though it’s called an informational interview, the mistake most people make is to commandeer the conversation. The ‘ why’ people do the job that they do, is the base of their motivation. The ‘why’ is drives people’s passion and perseverance and hearing about this in an informational interview allows the interviewee to get back to the reason they got into the industry in the first place (which they will enjoy) and may also help you to tap into your own why. If nothing else, you’ll likely feel inspired by the story behind the ‘why’.”

2. What would you change about this job/industry?

“This question helps you get into the more realistic elements of the job. The tendency of the interviewee will be to focus on the positive but this question encourages them to talk about some of the challenges they’ve encountered.”

3. What surprises you about the industry/job?

“If it surprises them, it’s likely to surprise you.”

4. What do you wish you would have known going into this job?

“I love this question in that it brings hindsight into play (which is as they say is 20/20). These are things that you may not have thought of.”

Kelsey Mulvey is a New York-based writer. She has written for several publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Time Out New York, LuckyMag.com, Taste of Home,Wallpaper.com. Check out more of her work at KelseyMulveyWrites.com and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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