7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Accepting a Job Offer
Discover what to ask yourself after receiving a job offer letter from a company to help you decide how to respond.
- Take time to review your job offer letter before committing.
- Don't be afraid to ask the employer questions or to negotiate.
- Use what you learn about the company and the job to decide whether or not to accept the role.
Getting a formal job offer letter is exciting, but it also prompts you to consider whether or not you have further requests or concerns for the company in question.
MIT Sloan Management Review published an analysis of company attrition during the Great Resignation. The analysis shows that the leading reasons employees quit are toxic corporate culture, job insecurity and reorganization, fast innovation rates, and failure to recognize employee performance.
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The more you analyze a company before accepting their job offer, the better. Researching a company puts you in the best position to ask the right questions. Companies are often happy to support you during this process by answering those questions or putting you in touch with the right people.
Knowing what questions to ask before accepting a job can help you decide whether to accept a job offer, decline a job offer, or negotiate.
How Does This Role Fit Into My Career Journey?
Landing a new job is about more than getting to work and earning a paycheck as soon as possible. You should know how an offered role can help you advance personally or professionally. When you clearly know what you want out of your work, it's much easier to make an objective decision about accepting the position.
With your personal goals in mind, think about how the role could serve you based on your current situation.
For example, will the new job:
Push you to learn new soft or hard skills?
Help you work in a role or for a mission that is deeply important to you personally?
Connect you to a great team of coworkers?
Allow you to break into a new industry?
Give you work experience to prepare for another role or graduate school?
What do you want to achieve in this role? Are you looking for promotion opportunities within a year? Do you want to cross-learn with other departments or gain a deeper sense of purpose in your work?
Knowing how you define personal success provides great benchmarks for your career journey.
How Will the Commute and Hours Impact My Life?
If you're working remotely, skip this one. Commuting to a physical location, however, could impact your hobbies outside the office and your general happiness with the job.
An extra-long commute might also prompt you to move closer to the office. That's an extra expense and potentially more stress, too. You should feel confident that any big decisions you make are worth the job on the table.
Likewise, the hours you work will drive many other aspects of your life. For example, if you're not a morning person but the shift offered starts at 7 a.m., you must decide if that's realistic given your personal preferences.
Do the Benefits, Pay, and Expectations Match My Needs?
Although pay is an important driver of negotiations with employers, it's not the only thing to care about when receiving a formal job offer letter.
Maybe the original job description aligns with the proposed pay, but the conversations in the job interviews made you think there are more advanced responsibilities. This gives you an opportunity to negotiate the pay rate.
Or perhaps the pay falls short of your target, but the company offers unlimited PTO or only works half days on Fridays during the summer. That's a tradeoff you might consider making if it matches your work-life balance goals.
Beware of companies that list dozens of tasks and responsibilities for entry-level roles. Also, look out for when a role positioned as entry- or mid-level pay actually comes with high or unrealistic company expectations. Go back to the hiring manager and open this issue for job offer salary negotiations.
Will the Onboarding Process Help Me Get Up to Speed?
Getting a formal job offer letter is step one. The company should set you up to thrive in your role with a structured onboarding process. If the company seems disorganized, overwhelmed, or without training documentation, then those are red flags.
To learn this before accepting a new job, ask for company handbooks and training schedules in advance. Or ask to speak to a recently hired employee — ideally, someone who has been in their role for at least a few months.
What Does Success Look Like in this Role?
Get the details on any important performance metrics used to analyze your work. Knowing what success looks like can help you adjust tasks and projects accordingly.
In addition, asking yourself this question before accepting a job offer lets you realistically think about your own skills and personality. Based on the way the company defines success, will you enjoy your work and rise to its challenges?
Preparing to meet a company's objectives for the role also reduces the possibility of feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, which can lead to you telling your boss that you're quitting.
Does the Company Culture Suit Me Well?
Culture is one of the most important aspects of your work life. A toxic work culture can wear you down, lead to burnout, and ruin your confidence. Asking the right questions during the interview process can help you identify the company culture. Ask questions about hobbies, working hours, company vision, and core values to learn more.
When uncovering as much as you can about company culture, read between the lines. Do employees involved in the interview process seem burned out? Do they mention things like the fast pace of work, difficulties sharing feedback with management, or slow promotion schedules? Try to dig deeper and learn more when you can.
This is also a good opportunity to review Glassdoor reviews about the company and look at average employee tenure through the website bios or employee LinkedIn profiles. If there's a lot of turnover, the culture might be problematic.
What is My Start Date?
Before starting your new role, you must prepare to resign from your current role and give adequate notice. Dates also matter if you need to move to a new location to accept the current role.
Much like many other aspects of starting a new job, a start date is negotiable unless the company has strict hiring and onboarding timelines. If possible, you might want to extend your start date to allow for some downtime before stepping into a new role to feel fresh and excited for your first day.
Frequently Asked Questions About Job Offers
What is the job offer process?
After submitting an application, companies conduct interviews and potentially use work assignments before deciding on a final candidate. Offers -- made via phone or email -- should include the position, start date, pay rate, and benefits information. At that point, the employee must accept, negotiate, or decline the offer. If you accept the job offer, you may need to undergo a background or reference check.
How do I spot a good employer?
To spot a good employer, look for things like competitive pay, a social safety net, a focus on mental health, and flexible work options. Other positive things to look for include an investment in personal development, strong-lived values, and happy employees. The interview process is a great way to determine if the company is organized, what the culture is, and if employees enjoy working there.
Is a job offer letter negotiable?
Yes. A job offer letter is negotiable, and most companies expect you to negotiate before starting a new job. Inform the company you need time to review the offer. Tell them you'll circle back with them in a clear, short timeframe. Things you can negotiate include higher pay, additional paid time off, a flexible work schedule, or moving expenses.
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