Must-Ask Interview Questions (for the STEM Job Candidate)

interview questionsWe all remember those awkward first interviews we experienced as we searched for our first jobs out of college. The hiring manager asked formulaic questions that we answered, and at the end of the interview it was our turn to ask questions. If you forced yourself to ask a handful of carefully prepared questions because you’d been told this was an important part of the interview, you’re not alone.

However, with experience, and resulting increased confidence (and let’s not forget, as an in-demand STEM professional who might have several job offers to choose from and must narrow the selection) you likely now go to job interviews with just as many, if not more, organic questions for the hiring manager, as he or she has for you.

And yet, maybe you’re preparing for your first interview in a while and aren’t quite sure which questions to ask. The market may have changed, ways of doing business change, and companies change.  So, here’s a little cheat sheet just to get your brain going. Use these questions as a guide, and build upon them or personalize them as needed.

The Position

  • How did this position become available?
  • What skills are you looking for?
  • What types of projects would I be working on?
  • Who do I report to?
  • Who reports to me?
  • What sort of decisions will I be making?
  • What resources are available to me?
  • Describe a typical workday.
  • What measures of success would you like to see from the candidate you choose in the next six months to a year?

The Department

  • How would you describe this department? What makes it unique?
  • What are its strengths and weaknesses?

The Company

  • How would you describe the culture?
  • What’s your favorite thing about working here?
  • Who are the organization’s competitors (this will help you understand if the company is a market leader or not).

The Compensation

Do not discuss compensation until you have been offered a job.

  • What type of benefits does the compensation package include.
  • Does the compensation plan include performance-related portions?
  • If an employment contract exists, what are its terms?
  • (In the case of a relocation) what moving expenses are covered (these may include lump sums or expense accounts for broker fees, move-in costs, meals and transportation, corporate apartments, or trips to your new city to search for housing).

The Next Steps

  • Close by asking the interviewer if they have any remaining questions about you (give yourself an opportunity to fill in any gaps remaining in his or her mind about your fit for the position, if applicable).
  • If you’re interested in the position, ask about next steps and a time frame for when you’ll hear back.
  • Make sure you let the hiring manager know you are excited and would love the position.

You need not pepper the hiring manager with a list of questions at the end of the interview. If you have these questions in your mind, they will most likely organically come up in the conversation throughout the interview. At the end, take a look at your notes and circle back to any you might have missed! You’re in demand – so you should be asking questions!

 

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