Open ended questions are the most useful to gather the information you need. It is appropriate to take notes of important facts and impressions.
Sample Questions for Career Exploration
Can you tell me about your job?
Can you describe a typical day?
What are the duties/responsibilities/functions of your job?
What issues do you deal with?
What kinds of decisions do you make?
What percentage of your time is doing what?
How did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
What jobs and experience led up to your present position?
Can you suggest some ways a student could obtain this necessary experience?
What are the most important personal satisfaction/dissatisfaction connected with your occupation?
What do you find most satisfying? Most challenging?
What were the keys to your career advancement?
What are the skills that are most important for a position in this field?
What work-related values are strongest in this type of work (security, high income, variety, independence)?
How has your job affected your lifestyle?
What interests you the least about the job or creates the most stress?
If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?
What abilities or personal qualities do you believe contribute most to success in this field/job?
Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about the field?
Would you mind taking a look at my resume?
Sample Questions for Job Search
Based on my background, what sort of employer do you think would be most interested in skills and experience like mine?
Do you think my prospects would be better with a bigger vs. smaller; start-up vs. establishes; mature vs. rapid growth/entrepreneurial organization?
If you were to hire someone to work with you today, which of the following factors would be most important in your hiring decision and why? Educational credentials; Past work experience; specific skills, talents; applicant's knowledge of your organization, your department etc.
Questions to Gain Perspective about an Industry
What general economic, operational and employment trends do you see in the industry?
What are the professional organizations in the industry?
What do you see as long term trends or prospects in the industry?
Are there other industry leaders I should be aware of?
Questions about a Target Company/Organization
What is the size of the organization/geographic locations?
What is the organizational structure?
How would you describe the work climate?
What is the average length of time employees stay with the organization?
What types of formal or on-the-job training does the organization provide?
What are the arrangements for transferring from one division to another?
Is the company planning to expand, maintain or downsize?
How does it compare with its competitors?
What new product lines/services are being developed?
Note: The key to successful networking is to ask for referrals.
The information you provided me today was extremely helpful…..
Can you suggest other people who may be able to provide additional information or perspective to me?
May I have permission to use your name when I contact them?
Can you suggest other related fields?
Have you heard of any events or developments that suggest a particular company/organization might have a need for someone like me?
Write a thank you note after your meeting. It will leave a favorable impression and begin a valuable relationship.