You know you should ask questions before taking a job. However, job seekers who have been looking for new opportunities for months, or even years, are unlikely to spend a lot of time and effort evaluating a new offer before signing on the dotted line. If you’ve been searching for for a long time, you may not have the luxury to turn down an offer.
Questions to ask before taking a job
If you can afford to pass up an opportunity to wait for something that could be better, here are seven questions you should answer before you accept a new position:
1. How healthy are the organization’s finances? Especially if you’ve been laid off recently, the last thing that you want to do is jump into a situation where another layoff could be in the near future. Make sure you research the organization and review what the press has to say before you jump to join.
2. Is the location feasible, and may it change? Can you really handle a 90-minute commute in the morning? Is there a possibility that the company may transfer you to a different location in the near future, and how would that affect your work-life balance?
3. Can you function in the organization’s structure and culture? If you’re a very independent worker and this organization functions as a series of small teams, you could be miserable and ready to look for another job in a few short months. Will you have a private office or be expected to function in an open office plan? Don’t underestimate the benefits of working in a company that provides a good fit for your work style.
4. What do you know about your boss? Studies show that people who may otherwise prefer to stay in their jobs plan to leave instead because they cannot continue to work for their bosses. While it’s not always possible to get an intimate picture of what it’s like working for your future boss, be sure to do the best job possible getting to know him or her before accepting the position. Hopefully, you took a good look around when interviewing for the position and noticed if people seemed generally happy or miserable at work. Use all the data at your disposal to decide if the position is a good fit.
5. Can you fulfill the company’s expectations? Does the company expect you to turn around a failing department in just a few months? Are you expected to wave a non-existent magic wand and solve a decade’s worth of problems? Make sure you aren’t overpromising and setting up a situation where you may under-deliver.
6. What can you expect from the company? What benefits do they offer, including vacation, health insurance and other extras, such as flexible hours and on-site child care? When do you become eligible to join pension plans or to take advantage of professional development opportunities? When are you eligible for a raise or a promotion? Some companies have archaic rules that could prevent you from applying for an internal transfer until a certain waiting period, even if you are well qualified. Make sure you fully understand what the organization offers you before you accept the position.
7. How does this role help you advance your career? At some point, it’s important to think about yourself and your own career goals. Too many people go from job to job without stopping to think about how the roles fit into an overall plan. Are you overqualified for the job? Make a list of the ways this job will contribute to your personal career goals. Will it offer new experiences or give you the chance to add something to your career portfolio? Will it put you in touch with influential people you can impress who may offer you new opportunities you want down the road? Try to avoid taking a job that doesn’t give you anything but a paycheck and a place to go each day.
photo by Oberazzi