The opportunity to question someone about their career path does not happen every day. Therefore it is useful to have questions that you could ask should this moment arise.
Hereunder are 15 top questions to ask someone about their career path:
How did you get involved in this field?
Hearing the story of how someone got involved in their field could provide valuable inspiration in your finding the career path of your dream.
Reading the autobiography of successful leaders show that they were all motivated by their passion or a desire to make a difference in an area.
As an example, Phil Knight enjoyed running and he had a big idea since in college that will never leave him. This big idea led to the creation of Nike.
What qualifications do you have for your field?
Usually someone along their career path has acquired skills that qualify them to do a particular job.
Knowledge of what these skills are can provide useful insight in the event that you are considering pursuing a similar career path.
It can give you information on the cost as well as the time taken to qualify for the career.
What are the most challenging areas of this career?
Every career has its tough parts. Understanding what these are can really give you an opportunity to access whether this career is what you want.
Your ability to succeed in a required field will be greatly influenced by your ability to endure the tough moments.
What traits/soft skills do you have that has helped you the most in this career?
Apart from the qualification that a career demands, traits are also critical to ensure that you succeed. Some careers require that you are patient for example if you are considering teaching as a career.
On the other hand, other careers may require that you work to tight deadlines such as the CEO of a corporation.
If you are interested in a similar career path by asking this question you will gain awareness of the traits that you need to build. Strategies could therefore be implemented to close these gaps.
What advice would you give someone who wants to explore a career in this field?
It is always helpful to research a career path before investing your time and resources into pursuing it.
That is indeed what informational interviewing is all about. This insight could be extremely valuable if you are considering a similar career path. This information could make your decision process easier.
What excites you the most about this career path?
Despite the challenges, many persons who have chosen a career path are passionate about it for a variety of reasons. Understanding what these are will give you attributes to compare to what you are looking for in a career.
Is there someone that you professionally admire?
Most individuals tend to have someone who they look up to who they use as a pattern for their career. Several successful leaders have shared individuals who they have admired who have influenced their career.
Phil Knight has admired Sony. Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were greatly influenced by the work of Mahatma Gandhi. This is definitely a great question to ask someone about their career path.
How do you deal with disappointments in your career?
One’s career journey is usually filled with a series of highs and lows. Hearing stories of how this individual has dealt with the lows can be inspirational and can provide tips for you to navigate challenging seasons of your life.
What strategies do you maintain to ensure that you are relevant in your field?
To continue advancing along your career path, one usually has techniques in place to ensure that learning and development is continuous. Does the individual follow a particular influencer?
What workshops and seminars does the individual attend yearly? Is the individual subscribed to any particular magazine? It will be beneficial to have insight into the strategies used to maintain relevance in the field.
What books have you read that have helped you along your career path?
Reading is transformational. According to Harry S Truman, not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.
Therefore, get a list of the books which this individual read as these may add a lot of value if you are considering a similar career path.
Did you use a mentor at any stage of your career?
Mentorship is a useful tool that can help someone along their career path. It will be insightful to understand if this individual has used a mentor.
Was the mentor a work mentor or someone within their profession? Does the individual have any tips on how to use a mentor effectively?
What did you have to conquer along your career path?
Fears are normal part of life that one usually has to overcome. Successful leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi had a fear of public speaking.
Alternatively, Champion boxer Muhammad Ali had a fear of flying which he had to face. Knowledge of the fears and how this individual conquered their fear can help you overcome your own adversities.
What career mistake taught you the greatest lesson?
Life’s best lessons are often learnt in the midst of trials and challenges. This question could be a great learning experience for you. Therefore this is a great question to ask.
Looking back, is there anything professionally that you would have done differently?
There is a popular phrase that said that hindsight is 20/20. The individual may have had decisions that they have made along their career path that looking back they would have done completely differently. This could save you time and resources.
Is there a favourite saying/ quotation that you say that keeps you going?
Along every career path, there will be tough days. An individual may have a thought, saying or quotation that they hold on to amidst challenges. Maybe you can copy this one and apply it if you like it.
Asking someone questions about their career path can add a lot of value to your career journey. Trust these questions help you maximize your next opportunity.
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