Begin the interview by explaining that you’d like your contact’s advice about his or her particular field of work. Below are some questions to target certain types of information. Select several that are relevant to where you are in your process. Remember to stay within the time frame agreed upon for your meeting.
Job and Career:
What are the duties/responsibilities of your job? What do you do in a typical day or week?
What knowledge and skills are needed for this job? What do employers look for on a resume?
What do you think are the rewards of working in this job, and the field in general?
What are some of the frustrations and drawbacks?
What is a typical salary range for this type of work?
How high can your earnings go in this field?
What does it take to be successful in this field?
What kind of advice would you give to someone considering this field?
What is a typical path of career development in this field?
What is the future outlook in this field? Is there an over-supply of qualified job applicants for this type of work? An under-supply?
Is this an industry/field that is particularly vulnerable to recessions?
What obligations do your work place upon you, outside of the ordinary workweek?
What are your working hours and travel schedule like?
How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, work schedule, vacation, etc.?
Do you consider your employer--or employers in the field generally--to be family-friendly?
What kind of background do I need to enter this field? Is a graduate degree recommended? If so, are there specific programs or schools that are particularly valued in this field?
How can I acquire the necessary skills? Are there courses or experiences, paid or otherwise, that are recommended?
What books and magazines could I read to better understand the field? Do you have regular reading that you find useful?
Job/Internship Search Advice:
Do you have any advice for how I might go about finding a job (or internship) in this field?
How can I identify both advertised and unadvertised openings?
What is the best way to approach prospective employers? Best timing?
What other types of employers hire people in this line of work?
Any advice on developing new job leads?
Would you be willing to look at my resume and tell me if you think it’s appropriate for the jobs I will be seeking?
What about the length, paper quality, layout, print-type?
If an employer received this resume, how do you think she or he would react to it?
Any suggestions about how I might improve the form and content of the resume?
Are there other people you would suggest I talk to about careers in this field?
Can you give me contact information and may I use your name?