15 Questions You Should Always Ask Before Accepting a Job Offer
It’s exciting to get a job offer. It can also be stressful, particularly if you’re moving to a role that’s different than what you’re used to. It’s important to consider all elements of the new position before deciding whether to accept it.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” says Zoe Morris, COO of global recruitment company Anderson Frank. “It’s better to do this than accept the wrong role and risk becoming a ‘job hopper.’ In today’s candidate-driven market, it’s okay to be choosy and reject a job if you don’t think it’s right for you.”
Here are 15 questions you should always ask before accepting a job offer.
Question No. 1
“Why is this job available?” is a question you should ask during the interview stage, but if you don’t, make sure you ask it before accepting a job offer, says Erica Moore-Burton, Esq., principal of Round Hill Search in Los Angeles and author of “The Little Professional P.I.N.K. Book of Success.”
Did someone leave because there was a difficult member of staff that they couldn’t get along with? Were they were overwhelmed with the work? Was the work not challenging enough?
“It could simply be that the incumbent moved on to a better opportunity, or relocated, but you never know,” said Moore-Bruton. “I think job seekers often fail to ask this question, but setting yourself up for success entails gleaning as much information about a role as possible.”
Question No. 2
According to Morris, one of the first things you should ask before accepting a job offer is what that job actually entails.
“Job descriptions don’t always explain specifics,” she said. “They’re sometimes focused on personality traits rather than tasks, and they can also be vague. You need to make sure you’ll genuinely enjoy the job and know what you’re getting yourself into.”
Question No. 3
During the application and interview process, you may have focused on selling yourself to your prospective employer by highlighting how you can benefit the company. However, you also need to consider how you will benefit from taking the job.
Jane Durant, a former recruiter at talent acquisition firm WinterWyman, advises asking for detailed benefits information in respect of vacation/PTO, 401(k) match and vesting schedule, cost and deductibles of health, dental and vision plans, tuition reimbursement, and any commuter pass or HSA programs.
Question No. 4
The conversation about remuneration doesn’t have to end when you find out what your starting salary will be. Ask if there is any flexibility on the salary and/or any bonus being offered, such as a sign-on bonus.
Durant recommends asking when your first performance/salary review will be, what average historical raises are, and what objectives the bonus is based on (such as individual achievements and/or company performance).
Question No. 5
Knowing the value of your role within the organization gives you a measure of the level of responsibility and reward, and potentially how much you could progress.
“While some positions are ‘business as usual’ or operational in nature to supplement business operations, others decide the entire trajectory of a business,” said Gargi Rajan, Associate Director of HR at ecommerce company Unicommerce. “In such cases, work involved in these positions can be a measure of how critical a resource you are for the organization. So, it’s a question worth asking.”
Question No. 6
If you’re thinking about taking an unfamiliar position, or making a major career move, it’s important to know what a day in the life of the job looks like to help you make the right decision. For instance, do you have to be in the office all the time?
“In the digitalizing economy, many companies now allow many of their employees to work remotely for a certain number of days each week or month,” said Jason Patel, former career ambassador at the George Washington University and founder of college and career prep company Transizion.
“Other companies require employees to work a set number of hours every two weeks to earn a day off every other Friday. Whatever the case, you want to know how you'll be working within the context of job demands.”
Question No. 7
Career and communications coach Fiona Bryan suggests asking if you can spend some time in the office where you will be working.
Talk to potential co-workers and anyone else in the company you would be working with. This gives you the chance to get the inside scoop and get a feel for the culture and their processes.
“If you are an introvert or expecting your own office and everything is open/low cubicles you may feel immediately uncomfortable and put off,” said Bryan.
Question No. 8
According to Jill Caponera, hiring manager at Promocodes.com, a great way to get an insight into company perks and work-life balance is to ask what employees enjoy most about working for that company.
“Getting as much information about the company culture and any perks that help to retain talent will help you decide if this is the right company for you,” she said.
Question No. 9
It’s important to know how the company you might work for measures success, says Steven Davison, operations recruiter at Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope. This helps you determine the right career goals (and have a chance of achieving them).
“There may be important follow questions to ask to this,” Davison said. “For example, if you are doing sales, you may ask where your leads come from. Are you responsible for all of your own leads or do you have a support team generating leads as well?”
Question No. 10
Every company has its own performance evaluation processes in place.
“Some companies are moving towards more frequent evaluations, rather than the annual review that is typical,” said Moore-Burton. “Others do not have a performance review system in place. Knowing when your performance will be evaluated can give you a sense of the company culture, and give you a sense of your career growth trajectory.”
Question No. 11
Before accepting a job offer, it’s important to ask about training and personal and professional development.
“Many companies will offer extensive opportunities for this as a way of engaging employees, ensuring their happiness and hopefully retaining them for years to come,” said Morris. “A good employer is one that genuinely cares about your progress.”
Question No. 12
It always pays to consider how accepting a job offer will shape the path of your future career and help you achieve your goals.
“Managing your career growth is a little like playing pool,” said career coach Eli Howayeck. “It's important to set up your next shot. If you don't have a clear vision of what your next move would be after this new role, ask your hiring manager for their ideas.”
Question No. 13
Looking past yourself and actually imagining your role on the team is a good mental primer, says Patel.
“It's useful to know whether you'll have a chance to breathe and adjust slowly once you're onboarded or hustle to get acclimated right away,” he said. “The last thing you want is to think you're joining for a leisurely first week, only to get involved in a critical assignment your first day on the job.”
Question No. 14
If the employer can't tell you what orientation and training you’ll receive as part of onboarding, be prepared to be thrown into the workplace with little support, warns former career analyst Laura Handrick.
“As an HR professional, when a candidate asks this question it tells me they want to be successful from day one,” she said. “This also gives you a chance to negotiate your first few weeks and months on the job in terms of training and support need to be successful."
Question No. 15
Not all questions need to be directed at your future employer. Howayeck recommends asking yourself some important questions too, such as, “Is this role a good fit for me?” and “Am I running toward this new job or running away from my current job or situation?”
Remember, when you're desperate to change your current work situation, you might also be willing to make some concessions about your new position that you would not make if you were content in your current role or situation.
“You have no obligation to accept the offer,” said Howayeck. Listen to your heart, listen to your head and listen to your gut before making your decision.