Informational interviewing with other women in a company or occupation in which you’re interested is a great strategy to get to know a potential employer or an industry, how compensation is structured, and how different jobs are evaluated.
Acknowledging what they’ve accomplished is a great conversation starter. Start with, “You have a great reputation for being knowledgeable and experienced in your field,” or some similar observation. If you have a personal referral, that’s even better. Let your prospective employer know who you know. Ask if they have time to talk informally, “Do you have time to talk for about 15 minutes?” As they are talking about themselves the conversation often continues longer, and you have more opportunities to let them get to know you, too.
Possible or sample questions to ask and information to share during an informational interview include:
- How did you get to where you are today?
- How did you start?
- Did you have a firm idea of what you wanted to do and how to get there?
- If not, what is the progression to get to where you are?
- I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but the important things to me are the ability to contribute, to grow, and to learn. I am curious about everything. I enjoy working hard and taking pride in what I have accomplished.
- What do you suggest as the most practical and effective way to find out about different careers in (general field)?
- Is it your perspective that there is a growing demand for (occupation)?
- Is the field already crowded?
- Do you feel you are in the right job? The right field? How? When did you know that you were in the right job?
- Do feel you are fairly paid? Is there a difference in how men and women are paid in (company name or industry)?
- If you were starting over today, would you make different choices? What would you choose differently?
- If you knew what you know now about being a (occupation) would you do it again? What do you wish you had done differently, if anything?
- Does a person in your field need to be flexible? How? A lot? Is that an issue?
- Is there anyone else you would suggest I speak with? What particular reason do you have in making that suggestion? Or, what should I say when I contact this person?
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