Questions to Ask

The more prep you do in advance of a meeting with a new contact, the more smoothly it will go. Consider these questions, along with those based on your research into a field. Depending on your career level, your questions may be more or less specific.

A Day in the Life

  • How did you enter this field?
  • What has your career path been like?
  • Do you use any of your graduate training in your job, and if so, how?
  • On a typical day (or week) in this position, what do you do?
  • What are the toughest problems you have to deal with?
  • What is the most rewarding part of your job?
  • If you were to leave this kind of work, what would drive you away?
  • Does your work become more interesting as you stay longer?
  • If things develop as you would like, what does the future hold for your career?

Assessing the Field

Trends and Insights

  • Is there a demand for new talent in this occupation?
  • How do you see this field changing in the future?
  • What opportunities for advancement are there?
  • Which professional journals and organizations cover this field?
  • Based on my education, skills and experience, what other fields would you suggest I research further before making a final decision?

Company-Specific Questions

  • What is the average length of time that employees stay with the organization?
  • What type of formal or on-the-job training does the organization provide?
  • How does the organization compare/differ with its competitors?

Qualifications

  • What kinds of prior experience are absolutely essential?
  • What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?
  • What is your opinion of my background and resume? Do you see any problem areas or weaknesses?
  • Who do you know that might be willing to speak with me as well? May I use your name when contacting him/her?

Opportunities

  • Which opportunities offer the most ability to learn a great deal?
  • What is the typical salary range for these positions?
  • How do people find out about these jobs?