Congratulations, you’ve got a job offer! The question is, do you actually want to work for the company? During an interview it’s easy to be so focused on selling yourself as a candidate that you forget to assess whether the role is right for you. Before you sign, here are seven questions to ask.
1. Does this job add to my CV?
When you’ve been job hunting for a while, it can be tempting to accept the first thing that comes along – but failing to consider the longer-term career implications can be a costly mistake.
John Lees career coach and author of The Interview Expert suggests asking whether the position will enhance your CV. ‘How will it help or hinder the way you present yourself to a recruiter in five years’ time? Have you done this kind of job before? If so, what’s new about it? What will you learn in this job? How long will you keep learning?’
Taking a job as a stepping stone to something better isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you need to be clear how the role will help you reach your ultimate career goals.
2. What is the benefits package?
You may have been asked for your salary expectations in the interview, but it’s crucial to know the details of the benefits package before you accept the job.
‘What is the salary and how does the bonus system work? How much annual leave will you receive? While these questions should never be asked in a job interview, it’s absolutely crucial to clarify this information once you get the job,’ says Michael Bennett managing director of ReThink Recruitment.
3. What parts of the offer do I want to negotiate?
Once you have details of the benefits package, it’s time to work out what matters to you most from the long list of things included in the deal at this stage: money, flexible working, leave, relocation or travel packages, start date, location, pension, health benefits, car, even job content.
‘The important thing to realise is that you can only ask for leverage on a maximum of one or two points, otherwise it sounds as if you are being difficult,’ warns John.
‘Secondly, never try to re-negotiate something you have previously agreed as this is seen as unprofessional and can cause the whole deal to collapse.’
4. Can I negotiate job content?
This can also be a good time to negotiate what you will actually be doing in the job.
‘You certainly won’t have the same leverage for at least another 18 months or so of taking the job, so if you feel there is any possibility that you can tweak the job description so that it suits you better, try including this as part of the deal,’ says John.
5. What’s the team like?
You could ask the hiring manager about the team you’ll be working with – but there’s nothing like meeting them and seeing your actual desk.
‘While the formalities of a written offer are being completed, ask to spend a couple of hours with the team you will be joining,’ advises John.
‘This confirms your strong interest in the job, but also helps you to be sure that you will fit in, and tells you a great deal about organisational culture. If the organisation turns down your request, you might wonder what’s in store.’
Michael suggests asking to speak to the person who currently occupies the role. ‘Ask them what they enjoy about the job and working at the company in general. If the position is currently empty, try to find out what happened to the person who previously filled the role.’
6. What opportunities are there for promotion?
Whether you’re set on climbing the corporate ladder, or keen to use the role as a stepping stone to something better, you need to know what development opportunities are on offer.
‘Ask if the company offers structured training and development programmes and how often they review them,’ suggests Michael. ‘Is there a set path for promotion in place? How long do you have to work at the firm for before being promoted, on average?’
7. How will success be measured?
Finally, be sure to ask what’s expected of you during the first three months on the job. If a potential employer can’t give a clear answer, it may be a red flag that they haven’t set objectives for the role.
‘Clarity about what’s expected of you and what problems you’re expected to solve can help enormously with the first 90 days of the job,’ explains John. ‘It’s also useful to know what they see in you – the reasons you’ve been hired are closely linked to what the organisation will see as success.
‘To get a handle on the way you will be judged within three or four months of starting the role, ask about preferred outcomes and what’s expected of you so you don’t face any unpleasant surprises.’
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