Impact Opportunity had the chance to speak with Kristin Brennan, Executive Director, Career Exploration and Development at Bowdoin College, to get her advice on conducting successful informational interviews when exploring a career or job change. She also provided the following questions you might ask during an informational interview or networking opportunity.
Start with a softball, something easy and enjoyable for them to answer. End with appreciation and one final question, which is: whom else would you recommend I speak with? This “snowball” research technique turns quickly into a great extended networking list if you ask each person you meet with.
About the person and their role
- Tell me the story of how you came to be in this role – what drew you to it?
- What is your typical day like?
- If they say, no day is typical, then follow up with, what’s today (or this week) like for you?
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- What do you enjoy the most (or find the most inspiring) about your work? What is the best day you have had lately?
- What’s the most challenging thing about the work you do right now?
About their department/function and the organization
- Tell me about the key strategic initiatives that you are working on right now - how do these fit into the broader organization’s strategy?
- What other functions in the organization are your closest partners? How do you work with them?
- What are the biggest changes happening in your field right now? How do they affect your function, and you?
Advice/connection to your own job search
- I notice you also (went to a liberal arts college/worked in a law firm before you came here/have a consulting background, worked in development, etc.). How has that been helpful in your role?
- What advice would you have for me to prepare myself for a role like this one?
- Do you have any favorite books, articles, journals, people you follow, or other people I should talk with?
Impact Opportunity would like to thank Kristin Brennan, Executive Director, Career Exploration and Development at Bowdoin College for sharing her insights and in the development of this article.