You’re ready for a new job. You’ve begun the job search and landed an interview. And, by this point, you should have already had a close look at your potential employer’s website. Pay special attention to whether or not they’ve recently been in the news. Have they been accused of something? Or, better yet, are they being recognized for an achievement?
Small things like that can be helpful conversation topics during an interview and, ultimately, they can make all the difference in securing the position.
It’s natural to be excited about a potential job. Most likely you’ll want to take the job if it meets your salary requirements, and if you feel you’ll be happy there. But, before accepting the job, there is plenty you need to know (and ask!).
We teamed up with Matt Allen, Rasmussen College career services advisor, to explore the questions you should ask a prospective employer before accepting a job offer.
9 questions for any potential employer
1. What is a typical day for someone in this position?
“The answer to this question is going to be different depending on whom you speak with, and we recommend asking multiple people at the company this question to get a well-rounded response,” Allen said. Ultimately, you’re trying to discover whether or not the job is one you will be interested in long-term.
2. What’s the company culture like?
The answer to this question can teach you volumes about whether or not it’s the right position for you. You’ll learn if you need to wear a tie every day, or if you can dress more casual. You’ll also find out if it has rigid or flexible business hours—a particularly important piece of information if you have to pick up children after work or if you’re hoping to avoid peak traffic times.
Allen recommends additional research for any reviews from past employees. Note: It’s important to remember some people do not leave under the best circumstances, so take these reviews with a grain of salt.
3. How would you describe the ideal candidate for this position?
“The ultimate goal of this question would be for the prospective employer to verbalize what they’re looking for, and then you can tell them how you fit that description,” Allen says.
Keep in mind, there’s always going to be specific skills the employer is looking for in candidates. Maybe they want someone who is extremely sociable; or maybe they’re seeking a self-starter who doesn’t need to be micromanaged; or perhaps they’re looking for someone who can stay focused in a chaotic office.
4. Who would I report to?
It’s important to know before accepting the job if you’ll have more than one person to whom you will report. “If you have one manager, it will be easier for you to tailor the job tasks according to what that person wants,” Allen says.
5. What does the team look like?
Ask this question to gain some insight on what to expect, including the personalities of your soon-to-be colleagues and the size of the team. You will want to find out what kinds of levels of leadership are within the team. Are there senior-level employees mixed in with entry-level ones? Are there opportunities for your advancement?
6. What are the opportunities for advancement?
“This is a great stand-alone question,” Allen says. Make sure to ask them about the process for advancement. Some companies consider length-of-service an important factor in moving you up the corporate ladder. Other companies promote employees on merit alone. Employers that are vague and don’t have a set promotion strategy tend to experience the highest employee turnover.
7. What are the company’s greatest strengths? What are its biggest challenges?
The answers to these questions allow you to gauge where leadership sees the company going. This will provide valuable insight into the company’s strengths and whether or not there are challenges to mitigate.
8. What first brought you to the company? What has kept you here?
“You are asking this question to learn, through the valleys and the peaks of success and revenue, why they get up for work every day,” Allen says. Asking this question allows the interviewer to explain the identity of the organization.
9. What does employee onboarding look like for your organization?
The answer to this question will help you find out if there’s a training plan or program in place or if learning is done on-the-job. If it’s a new industry, there might be an employee manual dedicated for new hires. Everyone learns differently, so this question could be key for you.
“Some companies will literally throw you in the fire and have you learn on-the- go, and some will have two weeks of training and gradually get you acquainted with the position,” Allen says.
The bottom line
If you make it a priority to ask these important questions before you accept a job offer, you’ll be much happier with your decision—whether you accept or decline it. It might seem like a good idea to at first take what you can get, but it’s worth showing interest in the company, brand and culture.
Remember: When you’re talking about your professional livelihood, the questions you ask are just as important as the ones you have to answer. Visit the Rasmussen College Career Services Blog for more tips and advice on careers and job searches.