When you're focused on getting out of your current job and landing a new one, it can be easy to forget that job interviews are a two-way street. Yes, your would-be employer should be asking all the right questions in order to get to know you as a professional, but it's equally crucial for you to get to know your potential new employer, too. If you want to make the best decision for your professional future, it doesn't hurt to do a little research and figure out the best questions to ask before accepting a new job.
Going through a time of transition in your career can be both exciting and intimidating — and although you might feel more than ready for a change of pace, that doesn't mean you should just blindly accept the first new job offer you get. The best job isn't just one where you feel like an asset to the company (though that never hurts): it's one where the company and its employees are also beneficial to your personal and professional growth as well.
So if you're in the market for a career change, here are nine questions you should always ask before accepting a new job, according to hiring managers and recruiting experts.
"What Are The Core Working Hours?"
Not all jobs operate on a nine-to-five schedule, so it's important to ask about when you'll be expected in the office — who knows, you might even discover that the company has a "work from home on Fridays" policy that you were unaware of!
"The answer to this question will give you an idea if the job will fit in with your current commitments," Jaffer says. "[You might] have kids that need to be picked up at school at a certain time, or you might have a long commute meaning you will only get into the office mid-morning."
"Does The Salary Package Include Any Benefits?"
If you're on the fence about a job offer, asking about any benefits — vacation time, paid leave, insurance, etc. — on top of the salary offer can be a great way to decide if this new job is the right one for you.
"Many companies offer additional perks aside from the base salary," Jaffer says. "This could include health care, dental, stocks, bonuses and many other benefits. It's important to weight up all this information when comparing job offers."
"Is The Salary Negotiable?"
The thought of negotiating for a better salary at a new job can be nerve-wracking, especially if you've never done it before. But if the original offer isn't what you were hoping for, it's important to feel comfortable going to bat for yourself.
"Look online at Glassdoor.com and Salary.com to see what people in your area are being paid for the position at the same level and function," Mikaila Turman, director of people at GoodHire, tells Bustle. "[Y]ou don’t want to accept a salary that’s too low, but you also may not want to accept a salary that’s much higher than market levels because if your employer ever needs to cut costs and determines that your salary is too high, you might lose your job because they know they can find someone who will do it for less."
"How Can I Make An Impact In This Job?"
If a job is really right for you, you won't just view it as a means to paying your bills: it will feel like an exciting challenge that you're eager to take on. Asking your new boss about how you can best make an impact at the company is a way to both make a good first impression while also giving yourself tools to succeed once you start.
"People are happiest when they know the work they’re doing is making an impact," Turman says. "You should consider whether you believe in the company and its mission, and whether you’re excited to support its products or services. If you’re unable to do that, you won’t be fulfilled in your job, and will ultimately leave to look for something that’s a better fit."
"Are There Opportunities For Growth?"
The best kind of job is one where you never feel bored or stuck, and where you have the opportunity to learn and grow with the company's help — so asking about growth opportunities up front will give you an idea of what to expect after a few years in this new role.
"When considering a position, think about the growth opportunities for your career," Turman says. "You want to take a job at a company that offers training, growth, and learning opportunities. Also consider the people and culture of the company and whether it’s a place where you’ll be supported and can grow."
"What Are The Company's Values/Mission?"
Every company has a mission statement, but not every company is going to have a mission statement that resonates with you personally. Before you commit to trying yourself to a company for years to come, make sure you find out and are comfortable with what the company says it values.
"For any candidate, I'd recommend asking questions about what the company's values and mission are, and then directly asking how those values are implemented in the workplace," Jason Gruenig, VP people lead at zulily, tells Bustle. "Though it seems obvious, not all companies truly embody, follow, or support the values that may be taped to the wall."
"How Will My Success As An Employee Be Evaluated?"
Landing the job is one thing, but keeping it is another thing entirely — which is why it's extremely helpful to have an idea of how your performance in the role is going to be evaluated.
"It's crucial to ask how employee success is evaluated: what format reviews are in, how often they happen, and what sorts of goals [and key performance indicators] the role is expected to achieve," Gruenig says.
"Why Did The Previous Person Leave The Position?"
It might sound like a nosy question, but it's actually perfectly valid to inquire about why your predecessor left the position that you're in the running for. It will help you understand what your employer is looking for in the next employee to take the job, and could alert you to any red flags about the job that you might not have noticed yet.
"What candidates fail to understand most of the time is that they are interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing them," Bryce Hall, co-founder of mastersincommunication.org, tells Bustle. "[T]he answer to [this] question will give the interviewee ample knowledge about the company and position and should certainly lead to additional follow-up questions to help guide the interview process along."
Ultimately, finding a job that's a perfect fit for you isn't just about selling yourself and your talents during the interview process — it's about being inquisitive and asking the right questions to figure out whether the job and company can help you grow and challenge you, while still being rewarding. So if you're hunting for a new job, don't be afraid to ask questions of your would-be employers, and never settle for a job that's not going to give you exactly what you need to further your professional development.