Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Job Offer

Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Job Offer

You’ve been offered the job. But should you take it?

There are some key questions to ask a hiring manager before you accept any offers…

Questions that will help you AVOID a toxic work environment, poor work-life balance, or a job that’s simply a bad fit for you.

These are some factors that cause people to hate their job and leave soon after joining, which is what you want to avoid.

Ask the hiring manager these questions before accepting a job offer:

Part I: Questions to Ask the Employer Before Accepting a Job Offer

What is the training/onboarding process?

Before you say “yes” to that new job, find out: How long is the initial training period and what does it entail?

Make sure this company culture supports its new employees and doesn’t expect you to go immediately from the job interview to a fully-capable employee.

No matter what experience you bring, there are unique aspects to learn about a new job and you’re going to be more successful if your new company trains and teaches you the basics.

Don’t accept a job offer if the company can’t explain how you’ll be trained and be brought up to speed on the role.

Being given a job description and told to start working is rarely enough. I’ve been hired for roles myself in the past where I received little to no training, and I ended up failing and being fired three months later.

So job seekers should be careful here and ask in detail about a company’s onboarding process.

How is my performance going to be measured in this position?

When evaluating a job offer, make sure you know exactly how your performance will be measured.

How often are performance reviews conducted, and by whom?

What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your position? How will you know if you’re performing well or need improvement?

Hiring managers should be able to answer these questions clearly and directly. Be careful of accepting a job offer if they cannot.

What will be my immediate priorities in the role?

Before accepting a job offer, make sure you understand what’s expected of you in the first few months (after you’re trained).

Why is the company hiring someone for this role? What do they need the most help with? Which of your daily job responsibilities are most critical, and which will occupy most of your time to start?

These are great interview questions to to ask an employer, too, even before a job offer is made.

What does the company do to facilitate career development among employees?

Make sure you’re joining a company that cares about employee career development.

Many companies will flaunt this during the interview process. But if it wasn’t mentioned, it’s worth asking about in your job search.

The best companies with the healthiest cultures will provide career development opportunities such as expert training sessions, and sometimes a budget to reimburse tuition/education at universities.

It’s not always a red flag if a company doesn’t offer this in its benefits package, though.

For example, a 15-person tech startup is unlikely to have the systems or budget in place to offer much tuition reimbursement if you want to pursue an advanced degree while working.

However, it’s always a positive sign if a company does have this type of policy in place, so it’s worth asking this question before accepting a job offer.

Asking this type of question can also be useful when comparing two or more job offers.

Who will be my immediate supervisor?

This is often made clear to you during the interview process, but if you spoke to multiple hiring managers or are unsure who you’ll be directly reporting to, clarify this before accepting the offer.

For one thing, you want to make sure that you get along with this person and feel comfortable working for them.

You also want to verify that the employer knows exactly which team you’ll be joining and what your role will be.

Believe it or not, some companies are quite disorganized and hire a candidate, yet change the role soon after you accept the position. They aren’t planning to do this, but it does happen.

So even if you’ve received a firm offer and everything seems solid, you should always ask yourself: do you know who your immediate boss will be?

If not, ask the company before accepting the offer.

What health insurance plan is offered and when does it commence?

Carefully review the job offer package to understand the health plan(s) the company offers and how much you’ll be paying per month.

If it’s significantly more than your last job, you can use this to negotiate a higher base salary or bonus before accepting the offer.

Find out if the company’s health plan includes vision insurance and dental coverage, too.

If you have a family, find out if you can pay a family premium and have your whole family covered.

Ask how soon health cover begins after you begin the job, too. Some companies make you wait 60-90 days to sign up for the company health plan, which is something you’ll want to know in advance.

How are vacation days, sick time, and personal time handled?

How many vacation days and sick days are given per year, and what is the process to use these days?

What happens to unused vacation days at the end of the year?

Are you being given paid vacation time, or only unpaid time off?

These are the types of questions you should ask before accepting any job offers.

Make sure you understand this before agreeing to your employment contract. Many job seekers are afraid to ask about this topic, and while I don’t suggest asking this in a first or second interview, it’s certainly an appropriate question to ask when you’re deciding on an offer.

Knowing company policies for all of the above will save you hassles and stress moving forward.

Can you work remotely?

If remote work is something that may interest you in the future, it’s worth asking about the company’s policy on remote work before accepting a job offer.

Find out all the details in advance so that you’re not disappointed by the policies of this potential employer after you’ve accepted the position.

Note that if you’re job hunting with the goal of finding remote work in particular, you should ask this question much earlier in the interview process, or simply apply to remote job openings.

Will the company help cover relocation expenses?

If you’re going to be relocating in order to accept a job offer, find out if this employer will over any or all of your relocation expenses to help you transition into this new job/city.

A company many offer a sign-on bonus to offset relocation costs. Larger corporations may have an entire team in place to help with relocations.

Depending on the individual employer, you may be able to get financial and/or logistical help with the following:

  • Selling your home
  • Receiving a short-term rental (a few months in duration) while you search for a new home to purchase
  • Packing and shipping your household items
  • Any penalties associated with breaking your current lease
  • Much more

When is this position’s expected start date?

Make sure you’re comfortable with the start date, and have a date finalized. If you’re giving your last job a two weeks notice, make sure your start date provides time for that.

You don’t want to say “yes” to a job opportunity and then find out that they’re expecting you to start this next job sooner than you’re comfortable.

And it’s a potential red flag if your potential employer tries to pressure you to leave your current employer without giving notice. It reflects poorly on your next direct manager and their company’s culture.

So ask about the start date and make sure you know what the company expects.

If you have a written offer letter, the start date is likely listed there, so read the offer letter closely before asking.

What is my daily/weekly schedule?

What are your hours? Is the role Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or something different? Are you expected to work weekends or public holidays? Do your hours stay consistent throughout the week/month/year, or does it change for this position?

Understanding your basic schedule and any potential variations that might crop up is vital before saying “yes” to the job offer, so ask any questions you need to understand what’s expected of you in terms of time commitment and schedule.

If you’ll need to significantly change your life in order to take the role on, ask yourself whether you feel it’s worthwhile. If there’s travel involved, consider that too, and ask questions to understand how often you’ll be traveling for, and for what length of trip.

Is the salary negotiable?

You might be wondering: How do you ask about salary before accepting a job?

The best way to ask about salary before accepting a job is with an open-ended question, like, “Is there any flexibility in that offer?” “Is the salary negotiable?” or “Is there any flexibility to increase the base salary?”

While many companies will give a potential employee the sense that an offer is set in stone, you’d be surprised at how often it is open to negotiation, particularly for skilled roles. And if an employer shows themselves to be truly inflexible on salary, it can often indicate inflexibility on other fronts.

A company doesn’t want to pay its workers any more than necessary. That’s just good business. But if you can prove your worth to them, clearly articulating how you can add value to the business, then you can expect to be able to negotiate a higher rate.

And if you don’t ask about this – you run the risk of being paid thousands less than your coworkers for the exact same job. Not fun, right?

So while it might feel uncomfortable, asking whether the salary is negotiable will help you earn more and demonstrate that you understand what you’re worth.

What is my total compensation package (including benefits/perks)?

Even if you’ve been offered your dream job, you won’t be able to take it if you can’t cover your mortgage or support your family. Because of this, it’s vital that you get a complete view of the compensation package being offered – the base salary, bonuses, and other benefits and perks.

Is the employer offering medical coverage? A company car? A 401(k)? How much will you earn month-to-month, and which of your current out-of-pocket costs might they cover?

By gaining an understanding of the compensation and benefits package in its entirety, you’ll be able to confidently state whether or not it’s enough.

Do you offer a retirement program?

Sure, you might be decades away from retirement, but it pays to start thinking about it now.

Ask whether the employer offers a 401(k), a pension or any other type of retirement programs.

Ask for documentation on these benefits that you can study at home, and ask for clarification on any ambiguities regarding things like fees, company matching and investment options/limitations.

What is the typical career path in the company after someone takes this position?

It’s a good idea to understand the potential for long-term career growth in a role and company before you accept an offer.

You can ask what the people who previously held this job are now doing in the company.

You can ask about the typical next step after you master this role.

You can also ask a question such as, “How often does the company promote people from within into leadership roles, versus hiring from outside the organization?”

Can I get all of this in writing?

It’s critical that you do your due diligence, and this means getting everything, and I mean everything, in writing. The hours, the expectations, what exact role you’ll play on the team, etc. This ensures that all that was promised will be delivered.

As a recruiter, I’ve heard horror stories of people taking a job, and then the role changes completely. They’re doing work they don’t enjoy and feeling frustrated each day, and end up leaving soon after. So get it in writing!

Part II: Questions to Ask Yourself Before Accepting an Offer

What are my non-negotiables?

What is the minimum compensation package you’re willing to take? How important is career advancement to you? Do you need a job with flexible working conditions? Create a list of non-negotiables, and if any are lacking in the job offer, be prepared to ask for them, and to turn down the offer if they’re not forthcoming.

Am I comfortable with the compensation package?

Sure, the package may be above your non-negotiable minimum, but are you truly comfortable with it? Or do you perhaps feel that you are worth more, or could be paid better elsewhere.

If you don’t feel comfortable, communication is key. Create a compelling argument as to why you believe you are worth more and present it to the company.

What do current and past employees say about the company?

What is this company like as an employer? There’s no better group to ask than the team within the walls. Sites like Glassdoor offer insight into the experience of working for a company – the perks, the pitfalls, the pay, and more. You can get a surprisingly good sense of the company culture simply by reading employee reviews.

As with any online review collator, negative comments should be taken with a grain of salt – people are far more likely to be vocal about a bad experience than a good one, and there are a wealth of factors that could have led to an employee becoming disgruntled. But if you see a succession of similar complaints, alarm bells should ring.

Will I thrive in this work environment?

This is a difficult question to answer without having experience on the company floor, but knowing what you know about the role, the company structure, and things mentioned in employee reviews, do you feel as though this is a place in which you’ll thrive?

Consider team dynamics, the personalities of your future coworkers, the overall culture of this new employer, etc.

You should try to gain a good understanding of this throughout the interview process with each company, since it plays a big part in how you’ll feel day-to-day in a job.

If something does feel off, that’s a potential sign that this isn’t the right opportunity for you.

Trust your gut, and take time to notice how you feel about this.

Sometimes this will involve asking questions, but sometimes you’ll have all the information you need, and it’s just a matter of sitting down at home and evaluating how you feel.

Don’t let a general fear of change convince you that there’s a problem with the position, though. It’s natural to be a bit anxious when changing roles – even if the new position is going to be great!

Will this role help me to achieve my long-term career aspirations?

“Where do you see yourself in five years time?” asks the interviewer. If you’re an ambitious type, you’ll likely have an answer in your head (and whether you let the interviewer in on it is entirely up to you). But perhaps the more important question, for you at least, is, “will this job get me where I want to be?”

If the role has real opportunities for growth, that answer will likely be yes. If you’re comfortable with where you are, and the position allows you to keep doing what you’re doing, the answer will also be yes. But if opportunities for growth are limited, or you don’t get to continue what you enjoy, this may not be the job for you.

Yes, getting offered a job is exciting. But to blindly say yes is to do yourself a serious disservice. Instead, gather the facts, reflect on your needs and wants, and take the time to make an informed decision before you respond and accept.

 

About the Author Biron Clark

Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.

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