What to Ask at Your Interview

You have written resume, submitted it for your dream job and now you are going in for the interview. You take to time to think of answers to the questions they may ask: What is your experience in this field? How would you solve this problem? What are your greatest strengths? What are your greatest weaknesses?

Have you thought of questions to ask them? It’s important to show interest in the company and let the interviewer see your enthusiasm for the job. One way to do that is to ask questions. Make sure that your questions reflect your familiarity with this company-don’t ask things that are clearly on the website. Keep in mind your own career goals and what you want to know as well. Try to think up open ended questions and follow up on the answers.

Find out about employee career progression. A good question for a human resources interviewer is “What is a typical career path for a chemist here?” A manager or scientist may be able to be more specific. Ask about his or her career path. Where did he or she start at the company? Has he or she changed departments? What educational background do employees in the department tend to have? What career paths have other people starting in this position followed? You want to find out if you will able to fulfill your long term career goals at this company.

Learn about opportunities for training. Will you be able to attend workshops and seminars? Will the company send you to conferences? Are you required to undergo a certain amount of training? What kind of training is done by the company? Keeping up with the new techniques and ideas in your field of chemistry should be import to the employer. If you are interested in going back to school, ask about education benefits. Has anyone in the department gone back to school?

Inquire about employee satisfaction. What is the turnover rate? How long do employees tend to stay at the company? Get information about the interviewer’s experiences. What does he or she enjoy most about his or her job? What is the hardest part of his or her day? You want to find out if people are unhappy and if you would be, too.

Ask about the position. What does a typical day look like? What is the most rewarding part of the job? What is the toughest part of the job? What is the most important skill needed to perform well in this position? Make sure you understand what you would be doing day to day.

Discover what the corporate culture is. How are employee evaluations handled? Is there a process for employees to give feedback? Ask the manager about his or her management style. How does he or she handle projects? How much freedom is given to an employee? Think about how you like to work and whether you would be able to fit in here.

Towards the end of the interview, inquire about the next steps. Will some applicants be called back for more interviews? Decisions may be made that day, sometimes there will be a series of interviews. Is there a set date when the applicant search comes to a close? Sometimes applications are collected until a position is filled, other times a search must take place during a set window of time. Are all applicants notified when the position is filled?

Think about what you want to know about the company and the position and keep in my mind how an interviewer will perceive your questions.


This article was written by Sara Stellfox. After working in contract and pharmaceutical laboratories, Sara changed her career path and is now a free-lance writer and chemistry instructor at the City Colleges of Chicago.

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