5 Important Questions to Ask Before You Accept the Job Offer

Published: May 01, 2018

questions to ask

It may not feel like it when you’re preparing for interviews, putting your application materials together, and in general trying to become the best possible job candidate so you can impress hiring managers and land the job offer… but you’re also evaluating potential new employers to see if their organization is the right fit for you.

In fact, given the current low unemployment rate in the US and the tight labor market in many sectors, job seekers are enjoying more choices and leverage on the job market. In order to stay competitive and attract this top talent, employers have to beef up their recruitment branding efforts and convince qualified candidates why they should join their company over a competitor.

Now, candidates are not only answering questions in the interview phase, they’re asking them.

Obviously, you want to ask any questions you have about the specific role you’re applying for, but more importantly, you want to understand the overall health of the company or organization and the long-term goals and challenges you’ll face in the role.

Here are 5 questions you need to ask before you accept your next job offer:

1. What is the biggest challenge the company is facing right now?

You need to know the good, the bad, and the ugly before you start so that you’ll be able to set your priorities and gauge what you’re up against.

And, problems within the company or organization don’t always mean you should turn down the offer. Sometimes, if you’re joining a company in a time of transition, you can situate yourself as a key player in its turnaround.

2. Where do you see the company/my department in 5 years? 10 years?

Always ask questions about the long game. While you certainly need to know what your day-to-day priorities and workload will look like in the first month or even year on the job, you need to know what the long-term goals of your company or department are so that you can be strategic about your own career path and goals and whether or not these align.

3. What do you think will be the biggest challenges I’ll face in the first 6 months?

Similar to the question about any problems or challenges the company overall is facing, this is more role-specific. It may include asking how the previous person in the role handled (or didn’t handle) these issues so that you can understand what needs to be done differently going forward. In other words, you want to be as informed as possible about the conflicts, roadblocks, or problems you’ll be faced with so that you can be better prepared to handle them.

4. How would you describe your company culture and office environment?

If you get the chance, it’s best to ask as many people as possible this question to ensure the recruitment manager’s vision or branding of the company culture actually aligns with the day-to-day reality of the employees. This is an important question, too, because the culture and environment obviously have a big effect on your day-to-day routine and overall satisfaction with the job, your colleagues, and the organization as a whole. Do all that you can, from research online and talking to as many people as you can, to get a firm sense of the company culture and overall “vibe.”

5. What are the opportunities for growth in this position?

You should always consider the overall arc or trajectory of your career path, not just the opportunities or responsibilities in front of you today. Where do you see yourself in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, or retirement age? What type of job title, seniority level, salary, lifestyle, flexibility, responsibilities do you want? When do you want them, and how do you plan to get there? These are all basic “career path” considerations, and any new job you take should move you closer towards achieving these goals.

And, when you ask about growth opportunities, that doesn’t always mean salary or job title. Even if you’ve reached what’s likely the peak salary or position for your field, you can still continue to grow and evolve as a professional, and a good employer will have a plan in place for how to support your professional development at every level.

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