17 Important Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Job Offer
To some applicants, the lure of receiving a monthly salary after months of job hunting is so irresistible they sign the first offer they get.
Maybe they already know the offered compensation package, maybe knowing their basic salary is going to be bigger than what they received previously was enough.
But money isn’t the only item you’re agreeing to when you accept a job offer.
By signing on the dotted line, you also agree to a company’s existing work schedule, vacation leave policy, and health insurance plan—or lack thereof. And while it’s not always in the contract, it’s also implied that you agree to work with your new boss and co-workers, whether you get along with them or not.
After a Job Offer, It’s Now Your Turn to Ask the Questions
Your future boss was the one steering the conversation during your job interview. The tables turn though, once they give you a job offer.
It’s okay to decline the job. You worked hard to get to this stage, but all of that effort will not justify how miserable you’ll feel if you don’t like working there in the end.
Don’t let them pressure you into giving a favorable answer. Thank them for the offer then give yourself time to examine it.
Read the job offer and list questions you think of as you go through it. Then schedule an appointment to discuss it. If you’re not sure what questions to ask before accepting a job offer, the list below is a good starting point:
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Accepting a Job Offer
Some job offer questions you need to ask yourself first, so you’re better positioned to negotiate with a potential employer.
1. What are My Non-Negotiables?
An applicant’s career goals and desired compensation package is unique to their situation and plans. That said you can’t always get everything you want.
List your non-negotiables and think hard about what you’re prepared to compromise. The perks you’re willing to compromise can be used as a bargaining chip for your non-negotiables.
2. Am I Happy With The Salary?
Is the basic salary in line with your experience and similar positions in the area? Consider if it’s enough for your expenses after taxes and other deductions.
If it’s not enough, start preparing to negotiate it. These professional tutorials on negotiating can help you:
A year ago, I accepted a job at a company that shut down six months after I started. They left almost a hundred employees with no severance pay and half a month’s salary unpaid.
I didn’t know the people who owned it had a history of ripping off their customers. They also had questionable sales practices that led to numerous consumer complaints. I didn’t know about these when I signed the job offer. If they treated their customers horribly, I should have realized they would do the same to us.
This experience taught me the importance of researching the company’s reputation, and leadership background before agreeing to be part of their team. Google them, check reviews on Better Business Bureaus, and read feedback from their previous employees at salary review websites like Glassdoor.
4. Can I Get Along With My Future Colleagues?
You may have met one of your colleagues in your interviews, or when you were given a tour of the office.
Now that you’re not obliged to be all-smiles and likeable, do you think you can get along with your colleagues? No one said you have to be best buds with your co-workers, but you should at least consider their attitude and how they’re likely to treat you.
“A friend informed her hiring manager that she will take a month long trip during her first year of employment. They said they’re okay with it but she demanded that it’s put in writing to confirm that they understood she would be taking a long leave, and that it wouldn’t affect her employment.”
If the verbal agreement about the month long vacation wasn’t put into the employment contract, she could’ve lost her job. Unkept promises about your role and benefits will cause a serious headache for you later.
7. When Do You Want Me to Start? When Do You Need to Get My Decision?
Do they want you to start immediately or will you have a bit of time to get your affairs in order? These are two of the most important questions to ask before accepting a job offer.
Think of everything you have to finish before starting your first day at work, such as:
Turnover pending projects at your current employer
The resignation notice required in your current job contract
Finding a new place, if you’re relocating
Packing up your stuff and moving into a new place
Spending unused vacation leaves that you can’t convert to cash
You can negotiate starting at a later date, if needed.
8. What Type of Benefits Are Included and When Does My Eligibility Start?
Compensation packages often come with health insurance, dental insurance, group life insurance, transportation allowance, and other benefits.
Not all of these benefits start on day one because they want to make sure you pass training and are not going to resign in a few months. Ask HR when you can start enjoying these benefits, and if there are any requirements you need to submit.
All these benefits add up to your basic salary package. Think about how much these benefits will cost you if you pay for them yourself, then add that amount to your basic salary to get a rough idea of its cost.
Gym memberships, day care discounts, and tuition reimbursements are good benefits, too, especially if you already pay for these services yourself.
9. How Much Vacation and Sick Leave Do I Get?
Vacation and sick benefits vary depending on the country you’re in and the corporate culture of your employer. For instance, companies in the Philippines usually give six to 10 vacation leaves a year, plus five to 10 sick leaves on top of public holidays. One multi-national finance company even offered unlimited sick leaves to their pioneer employees in their first branch here. In the U.K., most employees get 28 days of paid vacation, excluding public holidays. There are no such mandates in the U.S.
This can feel like a taboo issue, but one you need to consider. Asking about vacation time is frowned upon during the job interview, but you should definitely ask about it when accepting a job offer. Find out if the leave credits:
Increase when you get promoted
Could be rolled over to another year
If they’re convertible to cash at the end of the year
Most importantly, find out the process of applying for said leaves. Some companies make employees go through hoops just to get a few days off, while others have a system that prevents favoritism and relies purely on the team’s workload.
10. Do You Have a 401(k) Program?
Your 401(k) is a crucial part of your retirement funds. If your new employer has a 401(k) program, part of your salary will be automatically funneled into this account, so it’s important you know where that money goes and how it’s invested.
Ask the Following Questions to Get a Better Idea of Their Program:
Will you match my contributions? Is there a limit to the matching?
Use this 401(k) calculator if you want to see how much your contributions and employer matching can grow your retirement savings.
11. How Long Do Employees in My Role Last?
If your predecessor left to chase after a dream job, that’s great. But if they had to hire for the same position every year for the past five years, that’s a red flag. A bad boss, demanding schedule, lack of growth, and company politics could be the cause of the turnover.
If you sense the HR representative isn’t being truthful about the reason for the vacancy, look for employee reviews online.
Questions to Ask Your New Boss
There are some important questions to ask your new management team when getting a job offer. You want to get a good understanding of what your daily work and responsibilities will be, as well as accurately gauge the potential for professional growth this new job offers.
12. What Will My Everyday Responsibilities Look Like?
It seems silly that you’re asking this after the interviews. But you should ask this anyway to confirm that you are signing up for the same responsibilities that were advertised and discussed to you in the interview.
It’s not uncommon for employees to experience scope creep, a situation where tasks keep adding up to what was originally agreed upon. If this happens, you’ll be overworked, underpaid, and itching to leave your new job.
You can also ask for a copy of your job description and responsibilities so you have everything on paper.
13. What’s the Onboarding Process Like?
Onboarding is the process in which new applicants are taught about the company’s background and goals, as well as the skills they need to be productive team members.
An employer’s onboarding process varies greatly, from a week long shadow session with a colleague, to a month long program that combines classroom training and on-the-job training. The length of the onboarding program also affects how soon your boss expects you to show results.
14. What Are the Goals of This Job? How Will You Measure My Success?
Clarify the output your boss expects, and the metrics that will be used to gauge your performance.
Big companies often have established key performance indicators (KPIs) in place, but if you’re working for a small company or startup, you may need to discuss to create these metrics with your manager.
Another thing to consider is the frequency and timing of performance reviews. Will it be done on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis?
15. What Will My Schedule Be?
Even if you’re not paid by the hour, the length of your work week still affects your income.
Let’s say your salary is $50,000 a year. If you only work 40 hours a week, you’ll earn about $24 per hour. If you often stay late without overtime pay, your hourly earnings will drop.
This kind of schedule is common for some jobs, and in some cases they are compensated for it with a bigger base pay or more vacation days. Is that the case with your new job?
Your future boss may not tell you the whole truth, so as not to scare you off from accepting the job. So try to ask your future colleagues as well.
16. What Are Your Expectations in How We Communicate?
A Telecommunications Engineer is always on call, in case one of their company’s clients experiences a problem with their system. Depending on their service level agreements, if a call comes in at 2 AM, they have to answer it and troubleshoot the problem. In some cases, they have to go to the site themselves, or send someone to fix it. It’s the same for doctors and other time-sensitive jobs.
Unfortunately, round the clock communication isn’t limited to these jobs. In some cases, it depends on how workaholic your boss is. It’s better to know this early, before your future boss calls you at 1 AM to confirm your attendance at a 4 AM meeting.
It’s not just after midnight phone calls you should be worried about. Ask how you’re expected to answer texts and emails after hours, and on weekends.
Taking a break from work is a vital part of work-life balance.
17. What Opportunities Are Available for Professional Growth?
You might’ve left your previous job because you’re not happy with the career development opportunities available.
If that’s your reason for moving, can your new employer give you the opportunities you’re looking for?
Look for the company’s organization chart. Where does your position fit in that chart? Does it have room to grow or is it a dead end job?
If there’s room to grow, does someone have to resign before you get promoted? Or are there jobs that allow for lateral movement, like transferring to a different department or team? Lateral promotions may not always come with a salary increase, but it can broaden your skills and network within the company.
Are you afraid your future boss and HR manager will think you’re too picky? Don’t be.
Knowing the questions to ask an employer before accepting a job offer just shows you’re confident of your value as an employee. If they don’t see it that way, you should think twice about working with people that shun intelligent questioning.