The New York Times' Shifting Careers blog posts a good primer on the kinds of interviews that aren't meant to get you a job -- at least, not right away.
This article was originally published 30 January 2008.
Setting up an "informational interview" with someone in an industry you're looking at is a way of finding out more about a job or career path from an inside perspective. Workplace writer Marci Alboher recommends a number of questions to ask, including:
- Can you tell me how you got to this position?
- What do you like most about what you do, and what would you change if you could?
- How do people break into this field?
- What are the types of jobs that exist where you work and in the industry in general?
As an important end note, make sure to follow up on any return requests you get from your interviewee, and be sure to keep the whole thing reasonably short.
Mastering the Informational Interview [Shifting Careers/NYT]