Published August 06, 2013
In today’s competitive employment market, a long-anticipated job offer often delivers feelings of relief and security, but don’t be too quick to accept an offer without asking the right questions.
In order to really know what to expect with a new position, experts suggest having a conversation with potential employers to increase your chances of long-term career satisfaction.
“The first step is identifying what’s important to you as a potential employee,” advises Scott Dobroksi, community expert at Glassdoor. “Do you care more about company benefits, a flexible work schedule, or does free food matter to you at a company? Once you’ve identified what’s important to keep you satisfied in your work, make sure to ask your interviewer about these specific topics.”
Before committing to a new employer, experts recommend asking the following of questions:
Question 1: How does my position and department fit into the overall organization and what are my future opportunities within the company?
Delve into the fine details of a position, including advancement opportunities, before signing an offer, says LinkedIn career expert Nicole Williams.
“Make sure you have a good picture of what the levels ahead of you look like as well,” says Williams. “Are they mostly glorified titles? Would they require a lot of management or travel?”
Question 2: Can I have a formal copy of both the written offer and the benefits package?
Asking about company benefits while still in the interview process can be a turn off, but it’s critical to understand the full breadth of the offer before making a decision.
“You want to ask your interviewer about anything that raises a red flag or might concern you,” recommends Dobroski. “It’s also OK to ask about some really great benefits you read about and see how that might play into your specific role at the company or potential career path.”
Employee benefits can cover a significant portion of total compensation, so knowing all that the offer entails is necessary – especially for employees raising a family.
Some companies offer perks like tuition reimbursement programs, so for workers looking to pursue additional degrees and further their education, it is a topic worth asking about.
Question 3: Does the company operate only on base compensation, or will I be eligible for bonuses? Are bonuses based on a formula or objective standards?
Every company varies regarding their compensation plans, particularly when it comes to bonuses.
“Based on a recent Glassdoor survey, we know that salary and compensation is what job candidates consider most before accepting a job offer, while they also strongly consider company culture, commute and benefits,” says Dobroski.
With salary and compensation being two of the top considerations when people weigh job offers, don’t be afraid to slowly walk through your offered compensation package to evaluate what’s on the table.
Question 4: What is the company culture like regarding work time flexibility and adaptability?
Some people enjoy the structure of working a strict 9-to-5 day, but others experience more success having the freedom to work on their own time and in their own ways.
Dobroski advises reading online employee reviews and talking to former and current workers to learn more about a company’s culture. “By doing so, you’ll get an insider’s perspective on what works well at the company and what needs improvement.”
The more open and honest you are with your employer about your personal work style, the easier it will be to mutually succeed with the company and to achieve the work life balance you desire.
Question 5: How would you describe the company’s management style and overall corporate philosophy?
Every company has a distinct personality and culture, and it is important that you feel that you will fit in and prosper, says Jennifer Sullivan Grasz, vice president of corporate communications at CareerBuilder.
To start the conversation to get an overall feel for a company, she suggests inquiring about the company’s growth prospects by asking, “What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for the organization over the next five years?”
By asking about the company’s short and long-term goals, you may get a better glimpse into the core values that make up the foundation of the entire company. It also shows the company’s top focus -- whether it be temporary goals like exceeding revenue projections for the year, or more long-term objectives like recruiting and developing superior employees to sustain the company’s longevity.
Grasz also recommends finding out if the company’s leadership values a high-energy, fast-paced work environment that emphasizes individualism, or a more gradual and steady type of workforce that utilizes teams. Asking these types of questions is crucial to determine if the company’s ethics match your own.