I recently found myself in a moment of panic. I was visiting Austin, TX and had arranged to meet with an education director at a science museum. I plan to move to Austin after I graduate, and wanted to get a feel for potential employment opportunities. It wasn’t an interview, and we weren’t meeting to discuss a specific position, but I still felt unprepared. The night before my meeting, I sent out a panicked email to the FCL lab group titled, “What should I ask the museum lady???” To their credit, this amazing group of people immediately sent me responses with thoughtful questions to ask.
Talking with the group once I returned to Corvallis, we thought it might be handy to have a “back pocket” list of questions to ask your interviewer when you go interview for a position. Here’s what we have to start, any other suggestions?
Let me know. Katie W.
- What direction do you see the museum and the (education, etc.) department heading in the next 3-5 years?
- Are there any new initiatives or plans for expanding?
- Does the program have guaranteed long-term support?
- What is the education or teaching philosophy of this museum/department?
- Where do you see yourself as an educator in 3-5 years, is this a place you feel would support your goals and future plans? (getting at if they are stuck in the same habits or willing to change)
- Are there opportunities for professional development? What are those like?
- Do you have anyone that does research and evaluation? If so, what kinds of things have they been working on lately? If not, is the museum supportive of employees doing research and evaluation to improve programming?
- Can you tell me more about the visitor demographics?
- Do you host school groups? Are there they have special classes for those groups? Who is in charge of writing the programs, leading the classes, etc.?
- How does the museum handle adult/child interactions? (Such as parents to kids – do they see them as separate audiences?)
- How does the museum train their volunteers?
- What kinds of partnerships does this museum have with other museums or scientists in the area, or with the university?
- Can you give me some examples of interdisciplinary projects that happen here?
- How does the museum see themselves in relation to the community?
- How are community resources leveraged in the museum?
- What’s it like to live here?
- I know a lot of museums are doing 21+ evening events and employees can attend for free. Does this museum offer any adult only programs? (It’s a great way to get to know other employees…)
- How are salaries and raises determined?