Oftentimes during a job interview, the conversation will center around you and if you’re fit for the open position. As a consequence, you spend a lot of time promoting yourself and your abilities.
Taking a new job is about more than what you can do for the company. It’s also about whether the firm is the ideal fit for your professional ambitions and daily happiness. Since you’ll be working about 40 hours a week, it’s important that you find a job in which you can succeed.
To find out if a company or role is the right fit, these are 10 questions to ask before accepting a job.
1. What are your expectations for the position?
With any new job, it’s necessary to be clear about what the job entails, especially during those crucial first three months. “Before you even accept an offer, asking about quarterly goals for the position is crucial to ensuring success,” says Lindsay Shoemake, founder of career lifestyle site That Working Girl. “A lack of clarity from your interviewer or potential boss about the job expectations could be a warning sign that this isn’t the right position for you.”
A similar follow-up: “What is the most difficult challenge I would face in this position?”
“Many interviewers will respond to this question by providing you with an honest overview of company politics that will help you to evaluate whether you can succeed,” says Joe Weinlick, senior vice president of marketing for Beyond.com ”If the answer is, ‘You won’t have any challenges,’ beware! There are always challenges, and you may want to dig deeper before accepting a position.”
2. What type of people would do well in this environment?
This is one of the most crucial questions to ask when offered a job. Many managers can easily point out who would flourish in their companies. Jenn DeWall, a certified career and life coach, says that their answer will give you greater clarity about whether you would be compatible within the organization. “It’s preferable to learn this early rather than trying to fit in and be the sort of person you’re not,” she adds.
3. What are some personal or professional development opportunities that I can take advantage of?
According to Maria Katrien Heslin, founder of Business Boostcamp, learning about a company’s commitment to development can signal how much it values its employees. “For example, some organizations do not provide training or time off for professional development,” she explains. “Some have policies which prevent employees from attending conferences unless they get prior approval.” “Organizations such as this are usually rather old-fashioned in their management techniques.”
4. What is the typical career path for someone in this role?
DeWall says that it is crucial for those who have specific goals to know what they are working towards from the beginning. “If you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder and build your CV, but an employer informs you there aren’t any career development prospects, the position may be a dead end for you and your career goals.”
If you don’t want to end up job hunting again in a few years, this is something you definitely need to know before taking a position.
5. What is the corporate culture like?
One of the most important aspects of finding a job is making sure that the company culture aligns with your own values and lifestyle. Many people value flextime or being able to bring their pets to work, so it’s wise to research a company before you commit to working there. DeWall says that you should inquire about the company’s views on work/life balance and what a normal day would entail.
Of course, you don’t want to appear unprofessional, so you shouldn’t ask directly whether you can work from home and whether you’re allowed to dress casually in your first interview if you haven’t yet received an offer.
“By inquiring about office culture, you should be able to obtain the answers to your queries,” according to Resume Genius’s senior resume expert, Erik Bowitz. “Many modern companies offer the ability to work remotely and/or dress informally as benefits, which are both attractive perks for today’s young workers.” With the competition to attract top talent as fierce as ever, companies are pulling out all the stops with employee policies.
6. Is there a bonus program?
Bowitz says that you shouldn’t be shy to ask about compensation. Before you even begin to negotiate, make sure that you know what your pay landscape looks like—from base salary and bonuses to equity and more. “You should never feel lower or disadvantaged being the interviewee because you are both bringing value to the table.”
Joseph Terach, founder and CEO of Resume Deli, suggests that you should not hesitate to ask about benefits when negotiating your salary. This includes inquiring about how much you would have to contribute monthly towards medical and dental coverage, as well as learning the details of the 401(k) vesting and matching programs. At the end of the day, your goal is to get paid for your work and you need to be confident that the compensation will be enough.
7. What do you enjoy most about working here?
This is a crucial question. “Asking this question during an interview can help you stand out and learn more about the company,” says career consultant Melissa Cooley, founder of The Job Quest. “While most people will hesitate before responding since they have no idea what question would be asked—which is a typical reaction—others might stutter or become flustered. If an interviewer has trouble coming up with an answer, it’s worth noting.”
When asked about company culture, some interviewers may give a boilerplate response, according to Weinlick. By asking this question, you’ll elicit an immediate emotional and verbal response. “In other words, if their response gives you the impression that they don’t really enjoy going to work, then ask yourself whether or not you would likely feel any different in their shoes,” he adds. “It would be ideal if the interviewer makes you want to work for the company through their explanation of what it’s like.”
8. What are the most essential characteristics of your organization?
According to Ethan Austin, co-founder of GiveForward, it is crucial that you understand the values of the company you are considering working for. Read on to find out why this matters and how you can go about researching a company’s values. “It’s a red flag for the interviewee if different interviewers give various answers to this question,” he adds.
John Fleischauer, senior talent attraction manager for Halogen Software, strongly believes in this statement. “You want to find a response from the interviewer that clearly demonstrates, with examples, how the organizational culture is intentionally nurtured throughout the employee life cycle,” he adds. “In other words, if exceptional customer care is a cultural value, all job descriptions should include the importance of desire to assist or serve customers and satisfy their demands as a basic competence.”
9. What are your top five favorite assets of this firm?
This is a difficult question to answer, but it’ll provide you more insight into what life at the firm would be like and how the business values its employees.
Cooley says that one of the responses should be, “Employees.” “If the people who create the goods or provide the service are neglected, a candidate should genuinely question how this will affect how the business treats them.”
10. What seat do I take?
It might sound silly, but being able to see the office or cubicle in which you’d spend five days each week is extremely important for judging your quality of life at the company. According to Terach, overlooking to ask about your working environment is a misstep. She continues saying that it would be disheartening to take a job only then realize on the first day that you’d be spending every workday in a dreary basement with no windows. That’s certainly not the kind of pleasant surprise you want, is it?
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