When you’re applying for a job and in your interview, most of the conversation focuses on you. It’s usually all about why you want the job, what you’d bring to the role and whether your experience and qualifications tick the boxes.
But choosing to take a new job that you’re offered is as much your decision as it is the company’s. They might think you’d be the perfect fit - but do you agree? You’ve got to think about whether this path will fit into the life that you love and help you progress along your career path. You spend an awful lot of time in your day job, so you need to make sure that you make the right decision.
I’ve gone through this process many times now - some jobs I’ve accepted and some I haven’t. But every time this situation has happened, I’ve asked myself some questions. So today, I want to share these questions with you that you can now ask before you accept any job offer. Plus at the end, you'll find a free PDF so you've got them all in one place to use forever.
#1 | How do you see this role progressing in the future?
You need to get a sense not only of what is expected of you in this new role, but whether or not you’ll have chance to develop it in the future. Asking about setting goals for the future is a great way to set yourself up for success before you’ve even accepted an offer.
Pay attention to the response you get - if you don't get a clear answer or the interviewer tries to change the subject quickly, that might be a sign that they haven’t thought about the long-term growth of your position.
It’s also worth asking alongside this question, what the biggest challenges will be that you’ll face. If you can get an honest answer about where the overall company stands right now, that will help you to decide whether you’ll be able to succeed there or not. And remember - if they say there are no challenges, that’s a red flag. You always want challenges 😉
#2 | What’s the culture like here?
This is one of the most important questions in this list. Personality is a huge reason why some people are unsuccessful when they go for jobs. Most managers know what types of people will “fit” into their current team.
When you go for an interview and you’re walking around, take into account the types of people there, the office layout and how the atmosphere makes you feel. Then when you ask this question, the answer you get will be enough to tell you whether you’ll be a good fit or not.
This is something you need to know before you accept any job. If you’re shy and prefer to work independently, yet the interviewer is going on about all the big personalities that are in the team, you might want to reconsider.
Culture also relates to the way you work too. If you need flexible working hours or you want to bring your cat to the office (😜) you need to find out if any of this is possible before you accept the offer.
A great question I always ask at the end of the interview is, “what does a typical workday look like?”
If you have aims to work from home or only commute a few days a week, you need to ask this immediately so you don’t come across as unprofessional. It’s also much better for your reputation if you ask this before you say yes.
Office life is changing. There’s no longer a need for a strict 9-5 cycle and everyone swanning around in suits. Companies are trying to attract the best people possible with their benefits. If somewhere doesn’t have them, there’ll be other places to look.
#3 | Will there be opportunities for me to undertake further training?
Learning about a company’s commitment to progression and development is a huge signaller in terms of how much they value their employees. If there’s going to be no chance for you to train or have regular progress reviews, look elsewhere. This means they usually take an old-fashioned approach to management.
#4 | What have others in this position gone on to do in the future?
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I know you’re a goal-oriented person. You don’t want to stay still. You want to set goals and achieve them. That’s why you need to ask this question up front, so you can get an idea of what you’re working towards.
If you can see yourself in your manager’s position in a few years time, but someone has indicted there aren’t any opportunities for career advancement, the role might not be the right fit for your career goals. This is definitely something you’d want to know before you say yes.
#5 | Do you have a system in place for salary progression?
This is usually a question you won’t need to ask, as hopefully it’ll be covered by the manager. But I wanted to include it because of it’s importance. Don’t get nervy about asking about salaries. You need to get all the details on your pay before accepting any offer.
If you get an answer that your salary will be reviewed after 12 months, that’s great - when you start, make a date in your diary for when that review would take place. If you’re given a general answer like “we’ll see”, that’s not good enough. There’s no promise that your salary would increase at a certain point, if at all.
#6 | Why do you enjoy your job here?
This question is unexpected and can be very revealing - first in the interviewer’s body language and then in their actual answer. While most people will pause to formulate a response because they weren’t prepared for the question (which is what many of us would do), some will stumble over their words. And if they find it challenging to give you a proper response, that’s worth remembering.
If you hear the word “but” or they try to brush the question off and change the subject, you need to think about whether in a few months, you’d do the same. Ideally, you want the interviewer to describe why they enjoy working at the company - and why you would too.
#7 | What values does your company believe in?
Knowing what the company’s values are is really important. You want to know whether there’s a certain message or goal employees project or work towards - and then decide whether this matches your own values. You don’t need to sacrifice your values for anything. If you get different responses or something isn’t clear, that’s a sign that people don’t have a common target to work towards.
You want the response of the interviewer to be well prepared, confident and clear. You want to know what the values are and how these are enforced within the office culture and the work the company does.
#8 | What do you think helps to make this company successful?
This is a question that will give you further insight into whether you want to work at the company, and whether you’ll be valued too.
The best answer you want is “our employees.” If the people that are doing the work are mentioned as an afterthought, or worse, not at all, you should wonder how that would affect the way you’d be treated as an employee.
#9 | Where will I be sitting?
I bet you’re thinking that this is a silly question. But seeing the office and the part you’d be working in for seven hours a day is very important in deciding whether or not you want this to be your job.
Take everything into account - the people, whether you’re facing your team or you’ve got your back to them, where the windows are, where the toilets are, where everything is. You wouldn’t want to turn up on your first day to find out you’re actually based in the shack out back with no windows, right?
It’s an incredible feeling when you get an offer for a job you want. But what’s important to remember is that you’re taking the job for the right reasons. You can afford to be selfish here. It’s your life, your goals and your career. Remember that and do what’s right for you.
Want the PDF so you can access these easily?
What questions do you usually ask when you're in an interview? Which of these will you be asking in the future?