Don’t Accept a Job Offer Until You Ask These Questions

There’s no doubt about it: Receiving a job offer is a reason to celebrate. But even if you get the salary and benefits you ask for, it’s wise to pause before you accept.

It’s estimated that around 60 percent of people who accept a job offer end up wishing they had known more about the job before accepting. To make sure you don’t end up in this position, you need to practice due diligence and do some interviewing and investigating of your own.

Here are four people — or groups of people — you should reach out to, as well as some questions you should ask.

1. Talk to your potential coworkers

Depending on your sense of what’s appropriate, you should consider asking these questions:

  • “What are the boss’s strengths and weaknesses?”
  • “How do you deal with his or her quirks?”
  • “How does the team deal with crises or short-term performance failures?”
  • “What do you see as the top three priorities for the person who’s going to be hired?”
  • “What do you see as the company’s biggest challenges?”

2. Interview the boss’s boss

This option may not always be possible, but you should do your best to try to make it happen. Why? Because talking to your boss’s boss will let you know if everyone is on the same page:

  • “What does he or she see as your major challenges and priorities?”
  • “What are the company’s top three priorities?”
  • “What will constitute outstanding performance in your first six months? First year?” (Ideally, performance should be described in terms of quantifiable outcomes.)

3. Interview your key internal customers

  • If you’re in marketing, you need to interview some of the people on the sales team.
  • If you’re in sales, interview some folks in marketing.
  • If your role is in HR or Finance, meet with the heads of key departments.

4. Interview several major customers of the company

This can be invaluable on two fronts. First, it gives you some real-world business perspective. Second, if you accept the position, you will have already begun to build important relationships.

Even if you carry out only some of the due diligence suggested here, the odds of making a poor decision and ending up thinking, “I wish I hadn’t taken that job,” drop considerably.

If you’ve uncovered enough to make you nervous and your back is against the wall (“an offer is an offer!”) you’ll know where the skeletons are. You’ll be going in fully aware of the biggest challenges.



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