Guest blog by Kim Katz from Careers Insight:

When you approach the job market it is very helpful to speak to as many people as possible who are either in the industry and/or role you are targeting. Your CV improves as you gain valuable insight into what competencies to highlight; it shows other professionals your passion and commitment to the area of work and it may help with ideas for interviews or application forms.

If you are lucky enough to gain a meeting with a good source of information, here are some tips as well as questions to think about:


  • have a specific list of questions you would like to have answered based on your research or some knowledge from the presentation
  • prioritise questions – you may only have time for one
  • think about questions about role and company culture
  • think about questions about your suitability for a role and getting into the sector
  • think about questions about the industry as a whole
  • always ask open questions, allowing the respondent a chance to give their thoughts and opinions
  • try to remember something unique about the contact
  • practise your elevator pitch so you don’t stumble and stutter when you have your say
  • demonstrate your knowledge as an intro e.g. I see you have experience in.
  • smile
  • exit politely
  • tell the contact why you found the conversation useful
  • keep a log of contacts with details of meeting and any follow up
  • stick to the agreed time duration of meeting – if they want to continue, they will say
  • ask for more referrals if appropriate
  • be willing to return the favour


  • go over time
  • hand out your CV when you have asked for advice and opinion but have it with you in case they ask
  • rely on the contact to set up meeting – be proactive eg. ‘I will call tomorrow…’
  • try to be an expert in the field – you want their input
  • forget to follow up with a thank you


It’s always best to have prepared a specific list of questions to guide your meeting – there are many general types of questions you can ask, for example:

About the role and company culture

  • What attracted you to this particular role?
  • What do you like most about this role?
  • What do you like most about this organisation?
  • Is there anything you would change about the role?
  • How much control do you have about the direction of your work?
  • What in your opinion is this organisation’s strongest asset?
  • Has the job evolved since you started?
  • What skills do you have that you find indispensable in this job?
  • What is your vision of this organisation’s future?
  • What opportunities do you see facing this organisation?
  • Where have people who have had this position in the past gone to?
  • What key factors will determine this organisation’s growth?
  • How will working for this organisation change in the near future?

About your suitability for a role and getting into the field

  • What techniques worked for you when you were sourcing this role?
  • Which skills or experience should I emphasise?
  • How does my background fit in with the profile of this job?
  • What areas of growth are there in this role?

Make the most of any meeting you set up and your contact will go away impressed with your effort and you will go away with increased insight that can make all the difference on a CV or in an interview.