47 Questions to Ask Someone You Admire About Their Job

By Indeed Editorial Team

February 22, 2021

Networking with peers is a great way to increase your visibility in your industry. Identifying leaders you respect and admire in your field can help you learn how to approach your career. Interviewing a mentor or industry leader you admire can lead to valuable insight for your own job trajectory.

In this article, we explain why you should ask professionals about their jobs, advise on how to do it, provide a list of questions to ask and offer some tips for your conversation.

Related: 9 Questions to Ask Your Mentor

Why ask someone about their job?

Seeking the wisdom of an industry mentor, leader or long-time professional has tremendous value because not only will you learn about the person's specific job, but you'll also learn about the industry as a whole, how this person got where they are in the field, if you would enjoy their work and also get advice from an industry expert on how to structure your own career goals.

To set up an informal interview about someone's job, send them an email or make a phone call to their office asking for an informational interview. Be flexible and willing to meet at a time that works for them, and keep it casual by meeting for coffee, lunch or in a nearby park.

Related: Choosing a Career Path in 9 Steps

General questions

Prepare a list of questions prior to your informational interview. Good questions to ask that address general interests and advice are:

  • What is your favorite part of your job?

  • How do you manage your time?

  • What books should I be reading?

  • What do you do at work on a daily basis?

  • What's the best thing about your job?

  • What advice do you have for someone new to the industry?

  • What hard skills should someone in your field have?

  • What soft skills should someone in your field have?

  • Is there a quote that motivates you?

  • Who inspires you?

Related: How to Prepare for an Informational Interview

Questions about experience and background

These questions discuss the person's education and work history:

  • How did you get to this position?

  • How long have you worked in this industry?

  • What drew you to this field?

  • Where did you go to school?

  • What did you study?

  • How long have you been with this company?

  • Which has been more valuable in your career, your education or your experience?

  • How does this company differ from others you've worked for?

  • What are your hobbies?

  • What was your first job?

  • What skills did you develop early in your career?

In-depth questions

Consider asking more revealing questions to give you insight into how the interviewee thinks and reacts to dynamic workplace situations:

  • What's the best job decision you ever made?

  • What's the worst job decision you ever made?

  • What is your greatest career strength?

  • What is your greatest career weakness?

  • How do you make decisions at work? What is your process?

  • What are your long-term career goals?

  • Do you do any professional development?

  • What skills have you found vital to your job?

  • How has the industry changed since you started?

  • What is the culture like at your company?

  • What organizational challenges have you faced?

  • What are your next career steps?

  • What has been your biggest success factor?

  • What mistakes did you make early in your career?

  • How do you handle workplace disappointment?

  • Was there a career setback you faced which you later realized was an advantage?

  • What qualities do you look for in friends?

  • How do you create motivation for yourself and for your team?

  • Why do you do your job?

  • How do you separate your feelings and emotions from difficult decisions?

  • How do you maintain work-life balance?

Job questions with explanations

When you prepare the questions you want to ask someone about their job, you should also have an idea of why you're asking these questions and what sort of insight you hope to gain from the answers. Consider the benefits asking these questions will likely have:

  1. What would you do differently if you could go back in time?

  2. What are your daily habits?

  3. Where do you see the industry going in the future?

  4. What should I be doing to improve my career prospects?

  5. What professional associations are you a member of?

1. What would you do differently if you could go back in time?

If you're hoping to embark on a similar career path as the person you're interviewing, their answer to this question could offer you concrete guidance on how to approach career obstacles. Consider their answer and how you could apply it to your five- or 10-year career plan.

2. What are your daily habits?

Successful people are often excellent managers of their time and abide by a series of productive daily habits. Often, these include exercise, reflection, healthy eating and professional development. See what daily habits your mentor maintains and consider what value they might bring to your life.

3. Where do you see the industry going in the future?

Your interviewee has the benefit of years of experience in their industry. They may have a keen sense of what changes you can expect to see in your field and how you might prepare yourself to meet them.

4. What should I be doing to improve my career prospects?

It's more than likely that the person you're interviewing takes part in reviewing resumes or assisting in some other stage of the hiring process. Ask what they look for on a resume or during an interview to help you remain competitive as your career develops.

5. What professional associations are you a member of?

Professional associations and memberships are a great way to network and gain insight into your industry. Consider joining the associations your interviewee recommends to help boost your visibility in the field and grow your professional network.

Tips for a great interview

Here are some tips to help your interview with someone you admire go well:

  • Be respectful. Some questions may not be applicable to every mentor or industry leader. Make sure your guest remains comfortable and the questions you ask are appropriate to your relationship and the person's career.

  • Ask ahead of time. Set up a meeting rather than surprising the person in their office. Make sure both of you have adequate time to have a meaningful conversation.

  • Take notes. Write down pertinent answers and advice offered by the interviewee. Keeping notes from the conversation will help you remember valuable points later on.

  • Maintain the connection. After the interview, send the interviewee a note or email thanking them for their time and expressing an interest in keeping in touch.

  • Apply the advice. Use the applicable advice you receive from the interviewee in your professional life. Their career path may not match yours exactly, but you can learn from their challenges and successes as you navigate your own.

  • Ask follow-up questions. Show you're listening by asking follow-up questions if you want to know more about a particular anecdote, idea or piece of advice.

  • Keep it conversational. Remember, this is a conversational interview. Make sure you're also sharing ideas so that the interviewee has time to reflect and respond to your questions.

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