We’ve all heard these cautionary tales – someone takes a job only to discover within the first week or two that it’s not at all what they expected or wanted.
Can this be avoided? Maybe. Some bad situations you might not be able to foresee, such as an erratic or volatile boss who presented well during the interview, others you can try to avoid.
Let’s say you’ve received a job offer. You asked some questions during the interview, and now there are a few to which you must know the answers before making a decision. Assuming you know the basics, including the job description, your salary, and benefits, and the number of vacation and sick days you are entitled to, here are 10 questions to ask before accepting a job offer.
“How long is the probationary period?” They will probably tell you this but remember you can be let go pretty much any time during this period. So, it’s best to know how long it is.
“How would you describe the company culture?” You might have asked this during the interview. But if you didn’t, ask now. You probably won’t get a very enlightening answer — they’ll tell you it’s casual and everyone is awesome, and that they work hard and play hard (or whatever). But it will provide some insight, and also give you an idea of what to wear to the workplace if you haven’t got one already.
“What is your flex work policy?” If you would like to be able to work from home one day a week, or will need to leave early every Wednesday to pick up a child, find out if that will be possible. Don’t assume.
“How much overtime am I likely to be asked to put in?” Again, you might not find out the truth, but you should still ask.
“Is there any initial monetary investment required from me?” Some companies require you to purchase your own uniform or equipment. A friend of mine was recently blindsided by being asked to pay hundreds of dollars for her equipment for an occupational therapy role – after taking the job. She quit, but it would have saved trouble if she’d known this up front.
“Are there opportunities for advancement?” Employers know that nobody wants a stagnant job, so they’re never going to say that there are no opportunities for advancement. So, this is another one that probably won’t provide much insight. However, if you ask what those opportunities are, and if the company offers career pathing, you can get a bit more of a sense.
“Are there opportunities for education/volunteering/(something else that matters a great deal to you)?” If you’re looking for a company that offers education or volunteer opportunities, or something else that matters to you, now is the time to ask about it. Do you absolutely require that your workplace has an onsite gym? Well, good luck with that. But ask before taking the job.
“How will my success be evaluated in this role, and what are the expectations in year one?” You might also have asked this during the interview, but if not, ask now. What are the expectations of you during the first six months and the first 12? If you’re expected to bring in a million dollars in sales or 500 new leads, you should know this so you can know whether they are feasible.
“Will I be expected to take work home, and what are the expectations around working at night and on weekends?” There are people out there who are expected to work all weekend and four weeknights out of five (which in a salaried position is different from overtime). Try to find out about this.
“How much travel should I expect to be doing, if any?” Are you expected to spend six months a year flying back and forth between Toronto and Malaysia? That would be good to know in advance. Or even local travel. Someone I know recently took a job only to find out during the first week that she was expected to spend half the day in her car.
Ask these questions to make a better-informed decision. And add some of your own.