You’ve sent in the perfect resume. You’ve nailed the interview. You’ve been offered the job.
But should you take it?
Securing a job offer is exciting, particularly if you’ve spent a long time waiting for one. But don’t rush to respond just yet – there are some important things to ask about and know before accepting any job – and some mistakes to watch out for when asking!
So in this article, I’m going to walk you through what questions you should ask before you accept a position, including:
Let’s get started…
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.
The next thing to consider when asking yourself, “What should I know before accepting a job?” – Vacation time, sick time, and other related policies.
You may feel as though you’ll be judged for asking about leave before accepting a job offer, but if that’s the case, do you really want to work for an employer like that? Everybody gets sick. Everybody needs holidays to recharge. We’re not cyborgs (yet).
In truth, a good employer will be more than happy to fill you in on their leave policies, whether sick, personal or parental, paid time or unpaid time. Indeed, the best employers will have leave policies that they’ll be quite proud to outline, offering things like extra vacation time or generous paid parental leave.
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.
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.
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 plan. 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.
To what degree are you covered if you get sick? Is your family covered? Are other benefits included in the employer’s medical coverage, like dental, optical, mental health and alternative therapies?
If you know that you’re likely to face some medical costs in the near future, whether new glasses or new braces for your child, check the policy to see whether you’re covered. While this is unlikely to be the deciding factor in whether you take the job or not, it does help you to get a clearer picture of the overall compensation package, the importance of which we noted above.
It’s also wise to check whether the coverage commences on your first day. A waiting period may apply.
If you’re looking to further your career, you’ll want to find a company that supports you in that pursuit. What professional development opportunities are offered? Is the employer happy to cover course costs? Are there any mentorship or in-house training programs that will aid your development?
A good company will see the value in developing its employees, and will offer some or all of these opportunities, not just when you start, but throughout your time with the company.
It’s critical that you understand how you will be evaluated in your role, as this will allow you to gain an understanding of whether the company’s expectations are reasonable.
Are you measured through key performance indicators (KPIs)? Is there a regular evaluation of where your performance is at, like an annual performance review, or are things a little less structured? How does the company decide who they’ll promote?
If you’re looking to progress professionally, you’ll need to understand what is expected of you in order to advance.
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 frustrated each day, and end up leaving soon after. So get it in writing!
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.
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 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.
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?
There’s rarely a hard answer to questions like this, and you’ll be relying on gut feel. But if something does feel off, that’s as good a sign as any 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. It’s natural to be a bit anxious when changing roles – even if the new position is going to be great!
As a recruiter, I’ve seen people back away from great opportunities out of fear of change. It’s natural to feel this fear when joining a new team with new people, but in my experience, the people who back away from offers at the last minute over general fear of trying something new end up regretting it.
If your only concern is that there are some small, unknown factors in this new opportunity, or that you’re comfortable where you’re at, accept the job!
But if specific things about the role, company, manager, or employees are causing concern, then it could be a legitimate warning sign.
“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 start to write out a response.
Your career will thank you.