9 Questions You Should Always Ask Before Accepting a Job

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Stacey Back194
Founder | Career Strategist + Leadership Coach
June 16, 2024 at 4:16PM UTC

I often say looking for a job is like having a part-time job — it’s a big investment of your time and energy.

If you’ve made it to the stage of getting a job offer, congratulations.

You’ve spent lots of time searching for opportunities and reaching out to your network. You perfected your resume to get it to the top of the pile. You nailed your interviews and passed all background checks with flying colors!

Now, you’ve got a major decision to make. One which will impact your daily life, job satisfaction and future job prospects.

Then the doubt starts creeping in. Is this the right role? What if I accept and make a big mistake?

The truth is, there are no guarantees in life. All you can do is make the best choice at any given moment. 

After coaching hundreds of professionals through their job offers, I know the power of asking the right questions.

Here are nine questions to ask before accepting a job offer. They’ll help you reduce risk and minimize mistakes with your next career move.

1. Can I have the offer in writing?

If you receive a job offer and are happy with the terms in principle, give your verbal acceptance. Then, ask for the offer in writing. Most companies won’t issue an employment contract without this level of commitment.

You’ll have the security of a written offer and more control over the process. It takes a couple of days to prepare the contract and you can ask for extra time to review the employment terms.

This gives you time and space to consider the opportunity and reduces the likelihood you’ll make the “wrong” decision.

However, always ask your potential employer when they need an answer — and respect their timeframes. Be careful not to mess them around as they may have other candidates under consideration.

2. What do I want?

Get clear on your vision for your ideal future career. Your vision determines your career objectives and allows you to weigh whether a specific job is right for you. Does this role support my long-term career goals?

Identify your non-negotiables at work — the elements essential for high performance which keep you motivated to reach your goals. These are your daily tasks, work drivers, team, clients and ideal work environment.

3. Is this role the right fit?

As well as clarifying what you want, consider who you are. Does this position align with your purpose and personal values? The impact you want to make, the “why” behind your work and what’s important to you?

Assess whether the role supports your strengths, skills and passions. Is this the work you’re good at and love to do? Can you add value?

Evaluate whether it’s the right cultural fit. Are the organization’s mission and strategic goals aligned with what you want? Do their values support your own?

4. What are the development opportunities? 

Determine if the role supports your long-term career goals. Is there room to progress within the current team structure?

Consider whether the company culture supports career growth. Do they actively invest in developing their people? Or promote opportunities for employees to transition internally?

5. Can I work well with my future boss?

Whilst you don’t need to be best friends with your boss, a relationship built on mutual respect is important. Can you see yourself working well with this person?

Reflect on their personality and leadership style. Is it one you could work with — even if it’s different to your own? Do you like them and think you can learn from them?

If you have any doubts, talk to your future manager about how they like to work and communicate. Speak to other team members about their experience.

6. How do you measure success? 

How does your prospective employer measure performance? It’s critical to understand expectations and your KPIs before accepting any role. Make sure you’re clear on what you’re working towards.

This is especially if you’ve negotiated a pay review or promotion after starting. If you do agree specific terms, always get them in writing.

7. Am I happy with the terms? 

Check the salary package is commensurate with your level and experience. Are you happy with the pay, hours and all employment terms? If not, negotiate.

The best time to secure a competitive salary package is when you’re starting a new position. Don’t accept an offer without asking for what you want or agree to terms you’re not comfortable with.

8. Are there any red flags? 

Before accepting an offer, look for any warning signs. Have you done your due diligence? Talk to the team and past employees to remove concerns and get all your questions answered.

Have you had at least three career conversations? As part of your job search, speak to people doing work (or elements of work) you’re interested in. This gives you an understanding of possible opportunities and what you want so you can make the right decision.

9. Is it a clear yes? 

Do a final check-in. Get out of your mind, tap into your body and pay attention to how this opportunity feels. Is it a clear YES?

If not, what are your doubts? Is it something you’re willing to compromise on ± or a non-negotiable?

What’s your priority right now? And will this role get you one step closer to where you want to go? Check the role supports your long-term vision and goals.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice about accepting a job? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!

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This article was written by a Fairygodboss contributor.

Stacey Back is a career strategist, leadership coach and Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achieving women at a mid-career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms.

Stacey also supports leaders to transition from their corporate job into their own consulting business. She works virtually with individuals based across the globe.

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