The Hiring Process is a 2-Way Street — Don't Take a Job Offer Unless You Get These 6 Things

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Vicky Frissen10
April 16, 2024 at 10:1AM UTC

In one of his latest Instagram posts, Gary Vaynerchuck, CEO of VaynerMedia, hit the nail on the head: 

‘‘If you're worried about the ‘Great Resignation’, you have no idea what the ‘Great Never Applying In The First Place’ will look like.”

That’s right, candidates are pickier than ever.

It’s characteristic of how the job market has changed drastically over the past few years, for all parties involved.

Then Hiring Process Has Turned Into a Two-Way Street

Instead of approaching job interviews as something where they’d have to convince the employer to pretty please hire them, it has become a lot more equal: candidates are also interviewing their potential new bosses. 

As the playing ground has gotten more equal, people are not simply accepting job offers anymore — and you shouldn't either.

If you're planning on switching jobs or heading back into the job market, be prepared to say no to a job offer that doesn't feel right, or simply isn't right for you. 

6 Things a Hiring Manager Should Offer You Before You Accept a Job

1. A thorough screening of your skills.

Nobody loves taking tests, but nobody loves taking a job and finding out they don't have the right skills, either. Especially if you're applying for a technical job, keep an eye on the hiring process and any tests that are being conducted.  

For instance: if a company is asking for someone who has a strong numerical aptitude, know that you can't gauge that in an interview alone. You’ll need to work with numbers to prove you can. So, if they give you a numerical reasoning test, see it as a good thing: they know what matters in the role, and take it seriously. 

These tests should be efficient and short assessments of your skills. A company needs to know if you’re well suited for the role, but that doesn’t mean that needs to take up hours of your (unpaid) time.

2. Access to future colleagues.

Imagine you’re applying for a role as an iOS developer. Naturally, an iOS developer job description will mention your skills, daily responsibilities, and…who you will be working with. That kind of information in the description is where you can get specific during the interview.

If a certain team or team member is mentioned, why not ask the hiring manager if you could ask them some questions as well? After all — you'd be working very closely together — it’s even mentioned in the job ad — so making sure it's a good match would be smart, right?

Watch closely how the hiring manager will respond to this suggestion. Do they get enthusiastic about your involvement, or are they hesitant about you speaking to someone in the company directly?

3. Transparency.

Accepting a job offer has a massive impact on your daily life. It’ll impact what you do, think about and so much more. The least an employer can give you back is a little honesty upfront.

Don't shy away from asking about the “awkward” things: culture, turnover, how clear the job description is, the future plans of the company and money. 

It’s not just the answers you should be analyzing: it’s also about the hiring manager’s willingness (and capability) to answer them. Sometimes they’ll have to admit that yes, turnover is higher than they are hoping for, but they can give you clear insights on how they are working on that. That could be considered a positive.

Here are some questions to ask to (hopefully) get the transparency you’re looking for.

How long do people typically stay in this company? 

If anyone can answer this, it’s the hiring manager. If you get a vague answer, be wary. 

Why are you trying to fill this position? 

Are people quitting left and right? Is there massive growth? Are they hiring someone like you to support other employees? This will tell you a lot about the situation you’ll land in.

Where do you think the company is headed in the next five years?

Again, the hiring manager should be pretty up-to-date on the growth plans of a company. Their knowledge could tell you a lot about how the company (and your job) will develop — for worse or for better.

Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role?

Job descriptions are a hard thing to write, undoubtedly. But sometimes, companies simply don't have the role completely figured out. This could mean two things: you’ll get a lot of freedom to make the role your own, or you’ll end up doing a lot of incoherent tasks. Ask if they have an idea of what a day-in-the-life looks like and follow up where needed.

How do you guys ensure a healthy work-life balance?

If they don't actively do this, and you know you struggle with boundaries yourself, this one can be a real dealbreaker. Of course, you don't have to rely on their answer alone: here’s how you find out more about the company’s work-life balance, even before the interview starts.

4. Room for negotiation.

At the end of the day, jobs are about money. You're probably not applying out of boredom and need something to pass the time with. 

Bring up the topic of salary early in your conversation and try to get the hiring manager to share their expectations first. If you catch the hiring manager talking about  “competitive” pay, ask for numbers. If anything, a “competitive’’ pay should already be established on their side, right?

In case they don't want to disclose the salary yet, think back on the point on transparency. It’s okay to know your worth and share your expectations, but make it clear they might change as you learn more about the scope of the role and its benefits. 

The employer’s response is important — not only will it affect their initial salary offer, but if you do accept, these will be the same people you’ll have to negotiate your promotion within one year, three years and five years.

5. Details on benefits and bonuses.

A lot of companies wrap their benefits in fun language: 

  • “Work from where you want” (but only two days a week)
  • “Get access to health plans and gyms” (but pay your own part)
  • “Generous quarterly bonuses” (but only after being employed for over a year)

Make sure you’re getting to the bottom of what these benefits look like in reality. If there are benefits you want that aren’t listed, bring a list to the interview and specifically ask the hiring manager about it. This is especially important if these benefits are dealbreakers for you. 

Chances are, a hiring manager doesn't know the entire health plan from the top of their head, but if they’re willing to look into its details and get back to you with relevant info, consider that a good sign.

6. Insights into your possible next steps.

You're not only applying to your next job — you’re also gauging whether there is the possibility for the step after that at that company, and maybe even the step after that.

Ask about how they plan career paths, and what type of support is available. Ask about who has been recently promoted within the company, and what their journey within the organization has looked like.

If a hiring manager isn't willing to look ahead and only wants to talk about the job at hand, take the hint: they are more worried about filling that role than empowering employees and growing together.

How to Turn Down a Job Offer, the Right Way

If you've decided that it isn't a match, it's time to break it to them, gently. 

These tips don't just apply to turning down job offers — you can already figure out after the first interview that you don't want to proceed. 

Be clear about the reason.

You don't need to make up a reason or be extremely vague. Help the hiring manager and future candidates like yourself by giving them honest, constructive feedback.

Be communicative.

Do not ghost this employer. It takes you only a minute to write the hiring manager a quick email on why you're not moving forward with them, and you won't come off as unprofessional.

Don't burn all the bridges.

If you want, let them know you’d love to stay connected. It’s possible that the company will at some point make the necessary changes that would make them an adequate employer for you. 

Stay on good terms with the hiring manager.

They could just as easily switch to a different company in the future and if you left a good impression on them, they might reach out again.

Time to get out there and show yourself off to companies—while keeping an eye on what you want, too. 


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Vicky Frissen is a freelance copywriter based in Barcelona. She helps brands and businesses stand out from the crowd by putting some personality in each piece of copy she writes—whether it’s a 1,000-word blog post or a short and snappy Instagram caption.

What’s the no. 1 thing you look for before accepting a job offer? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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