Since I graduated college, I've pretty much accepted every job offer that's come my way without hesitation. Back in 2012, I was so new to the workforce and so desperate for work that I feared asking my prospective employers too many questions would ruin my chances of being hired — an outcome I simply couldn't afford. Now that I've spent a few years building my career, though, I've realized how unwise it is to not ask a ton of questions before committing to a new job — because no matter what your current skill set or level of experience, you deserve to know exactly what you're signing up for.
Of course, I don't mean to over-simplify things here. Considering the fact that the U.S. unemployment rate just fell below five percent for the first time since 2008, and that 40 percent of unemployed Americans happen to be millennials, I understand why so many young folks are afraid to ask questions during a job a interview. That said, if you've got a job interview coming up (good luck!), then you need to be prepared to ask as many questions as you can fit into that brief time slot. This is your livelihood, and working is probably how you're going to spending the bulk of your time, too — so as long as your questions are professional, appropriate, and relevant, you shouldn't be afraid to ask them.
Here are nine questions you should ask before accepting a new job.
1. Can You Tell Me A Little Bit About Why This Position Was Created?
Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job, told Business Insider that this question is how you should start your next job interview. According to Taylor, "It demonstrates intellectual curiosity, yet isn't intrusive or brash. It's also helpful to let the hiring manager talk, as you gather some history on the position. You'll get some insight on whether the opening is due to turnover or growth, for example."
Basically, you need to know if the position you're interviewing for is brand new — because if it is, you're probably going to be pioneering this sh*t. If the position isn't new, then you need to know whether the person who held it before you was fired (and if so, why were they fired?), promoted within the company, or if they just got sick of it and bailed.
2. Do You Have Any Doubts About My Qualifications?
Obviously, if you get called in for a job interview, then your prospective employer probably feels pretty good about your qualifications. This is still an important question to ask, though. It's honest, it shows gumption, and it gives you a chance to talk to your potential employers about why you feel perfectly qualified for the gig. As Joe Konop put it in a 2014 Forbes article on the topic: "I love this question because it’s gutsy. Also, you’ll show that you’re confident in your skills and abilities."
3. Will I Be Allowed To Work Remotely If Needed?
The answer to this question might be clearly stated in the description of whatever job you're interviewing for, but if it isn't, you should definitely ask. And if you're afraid asking this question will make you look lazy or anti-social, don't be: Not only is working remotely (at least some of the time) common — according to a 2015 Gallup poll, 37 percent of Americans today have telecommuted to their job, compared to nine percent of workers in 1995 —but studies have shown that people whose companies allow them to work remotely tend to be happier and more productive, so this policy might be worth considering when you're making larger decisions about the job.
4. What Is An Average Workday Like For Someone In This Position?
As Liz Ryan explained in Forbes earlier this year, "You have to know if the employer you’re considering joining is the kind of place where an ordinary workday starts at eight a.m. and ends at eight p.m. You have to ask them what constitutes a workday!"
Will you be so crazy-busy in this position that eating lunch at your desk will become your new normal? Will you be expected to pick up the slack when other employees aren't able to meet their deadlines/quotas/etc.? Will you be expected to work late? Come in early AF? Will you be supervising other people or working alone? These are all things you need to know, and asking this one question should get you a lot of answers that can help you make your decision.
5. What Do I Need To Do To Be Considered Successful In This Position?
First of all, the wording of this question is confident without being cocky, which is great. Secondly, you kind of need to know specifically what constitutes success in a particular position before you accept it. According to Joe Konop in Forbes, "This question shows your interest in being successful there, and the answer will show you both how to get ahead and whether it is a good fit for you."
6. What Kind Of On-The-Job Training & Continuing Education Can I Expect?
This is not only an important question because it conveys, as Forbes' Konop writes, that "you are interested in expanding your knowledge and ultimately growing with the employer" —it's also an important question to ask because everyone learns differently, and no two companies train employees in the exact same way. If you want to be successful and happy in your new gig, then you need to find out if your prospective employer's method of on-the-job training is compatible with your particular learning style —so it is important to make sure that you and your potential employer are on the same page.
7. Who Will I Be Working With & Can I Meet Them?
It's perfectly reasonable to want to meet the person you're going to be working under and the team you're going to be working with — because we all know that our coworkers and bosses can make a huge difference in our daily lives.
Admittedly, you probably won't be able to totally figure out your potential supervisor or your office mates after one meeting, but you should still try to meet them during your interview. Even a brief meeting may help you understand how they prefer to communicate about work stuff, and whether or not they're all total jerks.
8. How Do You Handle Salary Negotiation & Raises?
I know it can feel weird to talk about money in a job interview, especially if you're a woman, because sexism. Making money is kind of the main reason people work, though, so it's OK to ask about how a company handles raises and salary negotiations before you commit to working for them. In fact, most companies actually set aside money just in case their candidates want to negotiate their salaries before signing on, and women rarely take advantage of this fact. As Fast Company reported last year, "84% of employers expect prospective employees to negotiate salary during the interview stage. Yet only 30% of women bother to negotiate at all, while 46% of men negotiate."
9. Is There A Dress Code?
Unless they're sexist or ridiculous, I feel like dress codes are rarely deal-breakers for most of us. That said, it still makes sense to find out if you'll be expected to dress up everyday or if you'll be able to show up wearing harem pants, a tank top, and flip-flops without fear of being sent home. Plus, if you have visible tattoos or piercings, then you need to know what the official company policy is on sporting those around the workplace.
Of course, none of these questions are 100 percent necessary — the important thing to remember is that you're free to ask them (or any other questions that feel important to you) during your interview.
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