When you interview for a new position, much of the conversation focuses on you and how you’d fill the given role and meet the expected qualifications. As a result, you spend a lot of time selling yourself and your skills.
But choosing to take a new job isn’t just about what you will do for the company — it’s also about whether the company is a good fit for your professional goals and day-to-day happiness. You’ll spend at least 40 hours a week at work, so you need to make sure this job is one in which you’ll be happy.
To find out if a company or role is the right fit, ask these seven questions.
Before You Take the Job, Ask…
‘What Are Your Expectations for This Role?’
You need to get a sense of what you’re in for with this new position, particularly what will be expected of you during the first three months on the job. “Asking about quarterly goals for the position is key to setting yourself up for success before you even accept an offer,” says Lindsay Shoemake, career lifestyle blogger. “If your interviewer or potential manager doesn’t seem to provide a clear answer, that might be a red flag that they haven’t set clear expectations for the position.”
‘What Personalities Flourish Here?’
This question is a must.
Most managers can easily identify the type of person who would be successful in their organizations. Their answer will give you a better sense of whether you would be a good fit within the organization, says Jenn DeWall, a certified career and life coach. “It’s best to know this early on versus fighting to fit in and be the type of personality you’re not,” she says.
‘What Personal or Professional Development Opportunities Exist?’
Learning about a company’s commitment to development can signal how much the organization values its employees, says Maria Katrien Heslin, career specialist. “For example, there are some organizations that do not provide training or time off for professional development. Some have overly strict policies on employees being able to attend conferences,” she says. “Organizations like this most often are pretty old-school in their management approach.”
‘What’s the Typical Career Path for This Position?’
“For those who are goal-oriented, it’s important to know upfront what you’re working toward,” DeWall says. “If you are eager to climb the corporate ladder and develop your resume, and an employer indicates there aren’t career advancement opportunities, the position may be a dead end for you and your career goals.”
This is definitely something you’ll want to know before taking a position that could lead you nowhere — and back on the job hunt in a couple of years (or months).
‘What’s the Company Culture Like?’
Whether you’re interested in a job that allows for flextime or you’d like to be able to bring your dog into the office, you need to find out what the company culture is like before you’re hired.
DeWall advises asking about the organization’s take on work-life balance and what a typical workday looks like before you accept an offer.
‘Do You Have a Bonus Program?’
“Don’t be bashful about asking about (this part of the) compensation,” Erik Bowitz, senior resume expert at Copy My Resume says. He advises job hunters to get all the details on their pay — from base salary to bonus programs and equity — before accepting an offer, even unofficially or verbally. “Remember you both are bringing value to the table, and so you should never feel lower or disadvantaged being the interviewee.”
Joseph Terach, founder of Resume Deli, also advises not being shy when asking about benefits, especially how much you’ll have to contribute to medical and dental coverage per month and how the 401(k) vesting and matching programs work. At the end of the day, you’re working to get paid, so you need to be sure the compensation is adequate.
‘Where Will I Sit?’
It might sound silly, but literally knowing where you’d spend five days each week is very important for assessing your quality of life at the company. It’s a mistake not to ask to see where you’ll be sitting: Imagine taking a job only to find out on day one that you’re in a windowless basement. Not the kind of surprise you want, right?