While it might be tempting to accept a job offer immediately, keep in mind the things you need to discuss and clarify before jumping right in.
Have you gathered enough information about the role you’re applying for? What about the compensation, the team, the work environment, and the company? You need to ask certain questions to make sure that it is the right job position for you.
To help ensure that you’re going into the new role with clarity, we asked experts to provide some insights on the best questions to ask before accepting a job offer.
Joey Price, MS HRMD
Before accepting a job offer, you need to ask your prospective employer a few questions:
“Is it possible to re-evaluate the salary after 6 months of performance?”
This might seem selfish, but the reality is you can bake in a raise after having proven yourself to the organization. Companies know that much turnover happens within the first 90 days of a new hire joining an organization, so your high-performance and commitment to the organization can be rewarded if you ask for it upfront!
“What is your benefits package?”
I’ve seen this scenario play out so many times: a candidate accepts a job offer because of the salary, only to realize that the benefits package is not a good one. Remember to review the benefits package before saying “yes” so that you make the most of your ability to negotiate a comprehensive offer package.
“Can I spend a day shadowing the team first?”
This is a highly underutilized question. Both parties put on their best game face during the interview process, but what happens when you’re officially on the team? You want to evaluate the culture of an organization, and that’s not always clear from the interview process. See if you can shadow the team and come to an assessment on if the culture of the organization is one that you want to be a part of for the long haul!
Director of Recruitment, TalentLab
“What are the expectations of this position over the first twelve months?”
This is a great question to ask as the last chance to ensure that you fully understand the job scope and expectations for success before you accept the role. Although most companies strive to create an effective interview process that allows candidates to vet new opportunities properly, no process is entirely failsafe.
Individual interviewers will incorporate their own opinions and biases into their explanation of the role, and of course, will likely avoid giving away too much detail to an outsider during earlier stages of the interview process. Asking a question focused on what an employer expects of you during the first year of employment will help create an extra layer of confidence that you will be able to meet the challenges of the role successfully.
“What is the biggest challenge facing this business unit right now?”
This is a great question to ask to further gauge the context of team dynamics, team morale, and get a sense of what your new team is mentally focused on during your first few weeks. It’s important to know if there are major on-going issues, high visibility projects, or mission-critical objectives that you will have to catch up on, but more importantly, it will give you context to first impressions and first interactions with your new team.
If you know that your new team is undergoing a major restructuring, or has a mission-critical project in final stages prior to your onboarding, you will be more likely to engage effectively with your colleagues in your first weeks in the role.
“Is there anything I can do to prepare for my first day in the role?”
This is a great question to demonstrate initiative and understand the training or onboarding program better. It will also help you create a great first impression by impressing colleagues and managers with your ability to hit the ground running.
It’s also a particularly good question for any technical roles, where often new employees will have to learn a new programming language or third-party tools that are unique to the development environment. Most developers will be given more than sufficient time to catch up on the required skills, but it will help to understand what exactly will be required and allow you to start researching new skills at your own pace.
Former Recruiter for multiple Fortune 500 Firms | Founder, CareerSidekick
“How will my success in the role be measured?”
You don’t want any unpleasant surprises in your new job, and you want to know what it’ll take to succeed. So I recommend finding out exactly how your performance will be measured and evaluated. Consider asking for this in writing, too.
“Assuming things go well, where do you envision me in 2-3 years in the company?”
It’s a good idea to ask this question to make sure the employer has a plan for your development. You don’t want to get stuck in a dead-end position where an employer is only focused on hiring for their immediate needs, with no plan for how to help you grow more (and earn more) beyond that.
So ask them how your career path will look in a couple of years, assuming you perform well. This will show that you’re goal-oriented and confident and will help you avoid a job that may not be worth taking.
“What’s the biggest challenge that I’d be stepping into in this role?”
It’s important to show employers that you’re realistic in your expectations and that you’re ready for a challenge. Asking this question will show them that you’re serious about performing well in their job. It will also provide you with valuable information about what to expect and prepare for if you accept the position.
This is a good question to ask in any job interview but it is also worth asking before accepting an offer if you didn’t ask previously.
Founder, LLC Formations
“What are your promotion policies?”
You must ask them about their promotion criteria. Some companies practice annual promotion while others give biannual promotions. Moreover, you should inquire that the development is only restricted to salary or the benefits and job role could also improve. Most importantly, what is the average time limit for getting more benefits and a better job role along with the salary increment?
“Are there quantitative parameters for promotion?”
Your promotion must not be based on oral or qualitative parameters. Otherwise, you would not be able to negotiate. You could also lack deserving promotion just because of favoritism and not having performance records on board. So, you must clear it beforehand, either promotion would be given on facts and figures, or it solely depends on your manager or executives.
“How will the company support my professional growth?”
You should ask about the professional development programs of the company. Would you get financial support for further academic studies, online training, or the company conducting such training in office or not?
“Who will be supervising me directly?”
Maybe you got impressed by the overall environment of the company, but do not forget the manager you would be working directly with. Sometimes, managers make the life of their team members hell. Once you get to know his/her name, ask in your social circle, or from trusted resources about their reputation and ethics. It would let you know either it would be a healthy professional relationship or not.
“Am I bound to reply to emails or professional queries after office timings?”
Once you are out of the office, your employee role must end for that day. If you are bound to reply to your colleagues, manager, or executives emails after office hours, then it is overtime which you would not get paid for. So, make sure your employment responsibilities must end after office timings.
Co-Founder & Principal, Job Society
“Upon starting, what would my top three priorities be?”
This will give you a good sense of the immediate and urgent work, which can sometimes differ from the job description – it can help you manage your own expectations and avoid the, “But I thought I’d be doing ‘x.'” On my first day with a workforce development non-profit many years ago, I walked in, and they said, “We’re so excited you’re here…can you interview 11 students?”
“When you think about the best person that’s ever done this job, what did that person do really well?”
This will make your interviewer think of a specific person, and they will describe his/her qualities with examples rather than giving you the laundry list of character traits that are preferred for the role.
“Bryan was my second assistant, and he was amazing because he always thought three steps ahead and always had a back-up plan in case my travel fell through” vs. “someone proactive and organized.” This will tell you what’s important to your boss and what you can do to get ahead.
“Why is the position open?”
You are trying to ascertain whether someone got promoted or the job is open again for the third time in 18 months, or it’s a newly created role that may not be clearly defined – all will give you great insight, and the answer could be a red flag.
“How will I know I am doing a good job?”
It’s critical that you understand how the company/your boss will measure your performance before you start – if you think you’re getting six months ramp-up time and your boss expects you’re bringing in new business your first month.
President & CEO, Professional Alternatives
Starting a new job is a big decision to make, so be sure to do your due diligence and ask some questions before accepting that job offer:
“What does growth /success look like in this role?”
The possibility of advancement in a position is important for a successful career. Ask some questions about what kind of growth is possible for you in this role and how success will be measured along the way.
“What are the ways the company works to develop a healthy and inclusive culture?”
Ask about social gatherings, employee recognition, and co-worker relationships to learn more about a company’s culture. You don’t want to find yourself starting a new job in a toxic environment.
“What’s the best part about working here?”
Give the employer the opportunity to let you know what current employees most enjoy about the company. This helps you not only learn more about the top traits of the organization but also what type of co-workers you would have.
Director, Quittance Legal Services
Ask whether the offer is firm and about having it written up in a legal document
Increasingly, we hear examples of “ghosting” when it comes to recruitment. That is a job offer that seems like a done deal, only to see the hiring manager go cold at the last second.
The increase in this is no doubt in part due to platforms like Linkedin, making it easier to connect candidates to hiring managers. This means that hiring managers can more easily be tempted to make a last-second change if a better candidate comes out of the woodwork.
Before accepting a job offer, and psychologically ramping yourself up for a new job, a candidate should be upfront about asking whether the offer is firm, and about having this written up in a legal document. This will dissuade a hiring manager from making a last-minute change and can protect a candidate who leaves their current job, only for a new job offer to fall through.
Consultant & Keynote Speaker | CEO, Shift Profile
When they make you an offer the BEST question to ask is:
“Is this negotiable?”
If they say no, you will know that you got the best offer. If they say yes, you just got yourself a higher salary. Always ask, “Is this negotiable?” Be prepared to negotiate. Have a number in mind that you want.
Recruiters and HR people are prepared to negotiate. Negotiation is expected. The worse thing that can happen is that they say “no, we don’t negotiate.” The best thing, you got yourself a better offer by advocating for yourself.
Founder and CEO, Company Folders
Ask to see your workspace and meet your potential coworkers
Assuming that all technical and HR aspects of the job have been discussed, the two things I would ask before accepting a job offer is to see my workspace and meet my potential coworkers. It’s better to ask that on short notice, giving your potential new employer little time to prepare.
By doing these things, you’ll be able to tell if the people working there are happy and what the mood is like at the office. That will be a sure sign if you have the potential to be happy at that company.