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The Three Questions You Aren’t Asking Before Taking a Job

Acupuncture, ski passes, paid fun days and macaroon baking classes are quite charming as employee perks. But, let’s face it, we don’t all have those companies knocking on the front door recruiting us into their game rooms. Palpable company facets like work-flex time, advancement, company culture and overall fit are benefits that every employee wants and needs.


Important factors in Millennial workplace selection: career advancement, salary, benefits, work-life balance & job security. Click To Tweet


When you’re looking for a new job, it’s easy to get taken in by a fancy and well-articulated employer brand, but your job as a job seeker is to find the workplace that’s a good fit for you. Just like there’s a lid for every pot, there’s a great place to work for every applicant. You just need to find the best place to work for you.


The Interview

During the interview process, and before you accept an offer, ask these 3 questions to unearth whether a company could be a good match.


Ask: What Personalities Flourish Here?

Culture starts at the top. This question investigates the makeup of the characters and personalities that make up the company. Is there an abundance of Type-A women? A few too many traditional, old school males? Learning whether or not you will fit in can be just as important as what your job responsibilities will be.


Peers and camaraderie are the #1 reason employees go the extra mile, not money. Click To Tweet


If answered honestly, the hiring manager running the interview will give you the inside scoop on diversity of thought, company values, the communication structure and the overall dominant trait of the employees. According to Deloitte, HR professionals’ most important issue in 2015 are culture and engagement. Take this question to try to put yourself in the described environment to see if you could possible add to and enhance the culture. Plus, trying to learn more about how to be successful in a role makes you look like a go-getter.


Ask: What Sort of Employees Advance in this Organization?  

To piggy-back on question #1, dig a little deeper to understand how success if measured. Is it sales numbers at the end of the month? Client retention? Working up in the organization? True employee engagement and contribution? Learning how the company scores performance will let you know how you will be graded on the job.

69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were being better recognized and 32% of all employees want to see and understand the progress they’ve made toward goals set by their manager.

How will this new position impact the team? It doesn’t hurt trying to formulate a big picture thought. Aligning the goals of the position with the goals of the organization, with as much transparency as possible is a queue for success. There’s nothing wrong with ambition, so show that you intend to do what it takes to advance in the organization.


Ask: What time do you expect employees to come and leave?

This question probes into the reality of the company’s work-flex time offering, versus what the employer wants you to believe. Instead of them answering a yes or no question on the topic this question reveals the true significance of the clock at this company. 44% of employees indicated flexible work arrangements as the No. 1 benefit they’d love to have at work. If you are one of them and work-flex time is important to you, then look for alignment between what they say on their career site and the actual hours of the employees in the department you plan to be in.

If the answer is something along the lines of  “Each employee’s schedule is different,” then the flex-time offering may be legitimate. Work from home days, and ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) are other phrases to look for if you need flexible time in your workplace.

However, think critically if the answer is “Employees are expected to clock in at 8am and leave no earlier than 5pm.” Saying you have flex-time, doesn’t mean the culture promotes it or sustains it. Maybe employees stay until the boss leaves for fear of disapproval, or the pressure of employee competition forms the unwritten code of what amount of time is acceptable to come and leave. Flex-time may only be offered to certain pools of employees as well, so ensure you speak to the hiring managers or team leads of your specific departments.


“I believe a balanced life is essential, and I try to make sure that all of our employees know that and live that way. It’s crucial to me as a manager that I help ensure that our employees are as successful as our customers and partners.” –Marc Benioff @Benioff, CEO at salesforce.com


Of course, this only matters if work-flex is important to you or if the employer seems to be offering something they don’t have. Don’t routinely ask this question, or you might be talk yourself out of the job. While flexible continues to grow in the world of work, it is by no means standard in all traditional workplaces.


Offer in hand?

By now, you have met your manager and your team. You’re still in the onboarding stages, so any additional questions that bubble to the surface, you’ll be encouraged to ask! Some inquiries around touchy subjects like PTO, salary and specific benefits are better left for after you’ve been selected for the job.

Being too cavalier with probing questions (especially as an entry-level employee) is a sure-fire way to turn off hiring managers. You want to come across as curious and contemplative…not arrogant! Once confirmed for the position, then ask the more cumbersome questions. For example:


Ask: Does the company culture support employees taking vacations?

Companies with unlimited vacation have been making the news lately. But as the initial laudatory headlines fade, stories have emerged around actual culture. If the brochure points to unlimited vacation as a recruiting perk but managers dissuade people from taking that vacation, it’s pretty useless. You need to know if the company is supportive of employees taking vacation, because you don’t want to get stuck working yourself into the ground:

39% of employees don’t believe their bosses encourage them to take allotted vacation days and 67% of employees say their company says nothing, sends mixed messages about or discourages using their PTO .

Each company has the unwritten rule of how many days is really okay to take off. Do coworkers talk about how much time Jim has taken off this month? Sick days are viewed as lazy? Boss never takes time off? The real time you can take off without being viewed as uncommitted is determined by the culture of the company. Even better, ask if the manager you would be working for takes vacation. If PTO is important to you and your career goals in the long-run, this may be a deal or no deal question.



The myriad of reasons to accept a job or not, are uniquely personal. What is important to you for personal and professional reasons and how that fits within the proposed job. 78% said that the employee benefits package is very or extremely important in their decision to accept or reject a job.

Learning to ask better questions to get the source of what is really important to you can save you weeks, months and years at a company with just the wrong fit. Take the time in the interviewing process to not only answer honestly to the interviewer’s questions, but to ask questions right back. Happy job hunting!