So you got a job offer — congratulations! It might be tempting to jump right in and begin planning your first purchase with your new paycheck, but it’s important to ensure that you are going into the new commitment with total clarity about what it will entail. While your future boss was the one asking all the questions in the job interview (which you obviously aced, go you!), the tables turn when you’re considering whether or not the position is a good fit for you. Yes, it’s okay to decline a job offer if it’s not right for you.
Here’s what you should ask before accepting a job offer:
1 How Does the Company Handle Wage Negotiation & Raises?
This question may seem presumptuous, but it actually is a good thing to ask before signing a contract and becoming an employee somwhere that doesn’t allow for growth. Asking for a raise is now a common practice (and oftentimes necessary), and men are doing it more often than women. Asking this question before you sign up for a job suggests to your employer that you plan to advance in your career and take on more responsibilities that will deserve a greater paycheck. CNBC even suggests negotiating your salary before taking the job. Why not?
2“Can you walk me through an average day in my position so I can get a good feel for my hours and responsibilities?”
While this may be a good thing to know before interviewing for a job, but sometimes even if you think you know what your potential job will entail, the company has its own surprising policies. Liz Ryan explains in Forbes that understanding your employer’s expectations of you before signing onto a new job is of the utmost importance.
3What does the company stand for?
Knowing the answer to this question helps to ensure that the company’s values align with your own, if that’s something you care about. Having conflicting values with your employers can lead to difficulty down the line, and if something’s very important to you (say, climate consciousness, for example), it’s a great idea to ask an employer about what their company stands for before taking a job.
4What is office culture like?
Some offices have open floor plans that allows for (or forces) interaction with colleagues regularly. Others stick to the classic cubicles-and-boardrooms plan. How the office works — how social it is, how many happy hours you’ll be expected to attend, and what the general tone of the workplace is — can make or break a job experience, so this one’s a great question to ask if you’re deciding whether or not the job is right for you.
5What exactly is included in your benefits package?
Knowing how much you, as an employee, will pay in to the company’s plan is something you deserve to know, as well as what the benefits include. Do they offer dental? Prescriptions? These are things that you’ll want to know if you are too old to be covered by your parents (ugh, adulting), especially if you depend on insurance to help cover the cost of prescriptions you may take. Nobody wants to have to go see a sketchy dentist because they don’t have insurance for a real one!
6How many sick/personal days will I get? What is the vacation policy?
As stated by Forbes, “Some companies and some managers take time-off requests in stride and others cannot handle them.” Understanding which kind of company you will be working for is helpful information when considering accepting a job offer. It might be helpful to clarify that you’re not already planning to GTFO for a tropical vacation right when you’re starting a new job, but just that you want to know the company’s policies in case something comes up and you might need to take a few days off. Mental health days are very important.
7Why did the person who previously held this position leave?
The best-case scenario of the answer to this question would be that the previous employee went on to get hired to do the job of your dreams, thereby showing you how great of a step this job would be. The worst-case scenario is that the position which you’re considering filling has been previously turned over every three months due to poor management and employee dissatisfaction. This might be a good question to ask someone who would be your colleague rather than the person who would be your boss in order to ensure that someone will tell you the truth (though if you think your future boss is sugar-coating the job then that is also a red flag that it’s not a good one for you).
All of these questions will guide you to making a well-informed decision about a potential job, and the more answers you get before signing papers, the better. Websites like Monster.com and Glassdoor.com are also great resources for finding information about companies for which you might be considering working.