Near the end of each job interview, the interviewer will almost always ask: “Do you have any questions for me?”. Asking insightful questions is not only a great way to learn more about the position you are interviewing for, it will also demonstrate to employers that you are genuinely interested in the position and have researched the company beforehand.
During an interview, the company is evaluating whether you would be a suitable employee, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use the interview as an opportunity to ensure that the company is a good fit for you. Before you accept a job offer, gauge whether your personality is compatible with the corporate culture and whether the environment will provide you with opportunities for growth.
Josh Henkin is a Program Manger at the Tauri Group and the Founder of STEM Career Services. At the Tauri Group, Josh frequently interviews STEM candidates for consulting positions. Consulting is a career where you need to interact with a client and provide solutions to challenging problems. “When I interview candidates, I am looking for someone who is technically qualified, but I also want to hire someone who can demonstrate their ability to be prepared and take initiative. Both of these are critical skills in the field of consulting.” Says Josh Henkin, PhD, Program Manger at the Tauri Group and Founder of STEM Career Services. “If a candidate does not ask me questions during an interview, I begin to wonder… Have they researched the position and the company? Are they desperate for any job they can get? Or, are they just not prepared for this phase of the job searching process?”
Make sure you are prepared for your next interview. Here are several questions you could ask, and the rationale behind them:
- How did this position become available?
Your interviewer’s response to this question will give you insight into what to expect about the job. If the position is newly created, then you may not have a well-established reporting structure and defined responsibilities. However, if the position has been recently vacated, find out why. Has there been a large turnover in this position, indicating former employees’ dissatisfaction with the job? Did the last person to hold the position get promoted into another position in the company? If so, this could be a sign of the potential growth within the company.
- What is the typical career progression for someone in this position at this company?
After assessing your own career objectives, learn more about how the position you are interviewing for will shape your career in terms of networking opportunities and growth potential – both within the company and in the industry as a whole. Where have other employees who have held similar positions gone in their careers? Understanding the possible career trajectories of employees in the company will assist you in determining whether this job will help you achieve your career goals.
- What does the training for this position look like?
Asking questions about training shows your interviewer that you are eager to learn the information you need to know to succeed in the job position. Learn about the duration and content of the training, as well as what you are expected to know while holding the position. For example, if you are expected to be an expert of the company’s products, how will you learn this information?
- May I see the company’s organizational chart?
Use the organizational chart to see whether you will have one supervisor or many, or to better understand the positions of the people you will be responsible for managing. By viewing the company’s reporting structure, you can learn about the way your position fits into its specific department, as well as the organization as a whole.
Often times, companies with flat organizational charts are structured to make changes and decisions more rapidly than stovepipe organizations with multiple layers of management. Because there are pros and cons to both types of organizational structures, it’s important to be aware of the type of company you may be working for.
- How much travel is required?
By understanding up front how much traveling is required for client visits, training opportunities, and meetings at the company’s headquarters, you can make a more informed decision about whether the position is compatible with your lifestyle.
About STEM Career Services
STEM Career Services specializes in working with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduates and postdocs who are looking to start a career outside of the academic or laboratory environment. We are expert mentors and professionals with invaluable experience in government consulting; management consulting; biotech, pharmaceuticals and medical device industries; Federal government and nonprofits. STEM Career Services offers career counseling, workshops and job placement services.