Whether you are still studying or considering a career change, you might wonder what it is like to be a professional in your field of interest.
So, why not ask a few questions directly to a professional to confirm your intuitions, assess whether this job fully aligns with your expectations but also get a few tips to be as successful as possible?
Many professionals are ready to help and share some of their wisdom, as long as they feel that you are truly motivated to learn. This means that you’d better be prepared to ask the right questions that will trigger a good conversation and also challenge the person you’re talking to.
Here are ten questions we usually suggest to ask to any professionals to get some great insights about what their job entails. These general questions are meant to be applicable to any job and can be used even though your knowledge of this job is currently limited.
1. Could you describe your job in a few simple words?
Whatever is well conceived can be clearly said and words to say it flow from ease. This well known sentence summarizes it all. You basically want to ensure that the job you are going for can be clearly explained and that the definition given by the professional is aligned with what you had in mind. The type of tasks completed and levels of interaction with other teammates could be discussed at this point.
2. What are the key contextual elements I should be aware of?
You may need to make sure that you have properly explored all the different working environments and type of institutions where the job you target could be done. This should also be an opportunity to get a better understanding of the key debates in this industry, whether they are related to recent regulations or technological changes.
3. Which working conditions should I expect?
Working conditions cover a wide range of topics from hours of work, compensation practices, physical conditions, stress levels but also diversity levels. A strong pay package is not the be-all-and end-all as there might be key working issues that could negatively affect your working experience.
4. What are people usually missing about your job?
The aim here is to go beyond the key stereotypes of this profession and debunk some myths. This question should encourage the professional you are speaking to to engage in a franc discussions about the misperceptions that people usually have and the gap between the usual expectations and the reality.
5. What are the key soft skills required to be truly successful?
It is critical for you to understand the key soft skills needed in this job ( creativity, attention to detail, multitasking,…) to be successful. The idea here is to focus on the non technical skills and to draw a portrait of the type of people that thrive in this job.
6. What are the technical skills needed and the best ways to get them?
Your discussion with the professional should allow you to understand the critical technical skills required and the best way to get them (This could be through specific education programs, personal experiences or extra curricular activities). You may also want to insist on the type of experience that will help you to stand out in front of a recruiter.
7. What are the aspects of your job that you enjoy the most?
This question is meant to understand the sources of pride and satisfaction from this job. You may want to ask for notable successful achievements that will give you a better idea of what success looks like in this job.
8. What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
When discussing with a professional to define your professional aspirations, we would really recommend to spend some time identifying the potential road blocks on your way. This means that you should purposefully dig deeper on the most important sources of frustrations. It is also good to remind the professional that you might be ok with those issues and that they can feel free to speak and not be concerned about telling it like it is.
9. What are the next opportunities available after this job?
One key aspects to consider before taking the leap is the growth prospects in this particular job. You also want to make sure that this job is not going to be a dead-end with no further opportunities ahead. You can also encourage the professionals to highlight the necessary steps to achieve these other potential opportunities (number of years and type of experience needed to be considered for professional mobility).
10. What is your vision of the future of this job?
One of the most important question is related to the vision of the professionals on the way this job is going to evolve in the next decade. This should cover the tasks, skills as well as recruitment opportunities that could be available in the years to come.