5 Questions to Ask After Receiving a Job Offer

Veterans speak with a training service during a career fair for veterans at the Scottish Rite Center in San Diego.
Veterans speak with a training service that gives prior service members new skills for the current job market during a career fair for veterans at the Scottish Rite Center in San Diego, Feb. 2, 2023. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elisha Smith/U.S. Navy photo)

All job hunters are waiting for that call -- the one that says they've landed the job. But as eager as you may be to escape either your current job or unemployment, don't abdicate your power position once the offer comes in.

Now it's your turn to sit in the interviewer's seat and ask the company and yourself some tough questions -- the answers to which could mean the difference between career bliss and disaster.

Julie Jansen, author of "I Don't Know What I Want, But I Know It's Not This: A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work," says every job seeker should get the answers to these five questions to make sure the job is a good fit all around:

Will the Actual Work and Job Responsibilities Provide Gratification, Fulfillment and Challenge?

This question is often overlooked, because applicants get hung up on job titles, salary and benefits. Try to get a clear sense of what an actual day would be like:

  • What will you spend the majority of your time doing?
  • Is the work in line with your values?
  • Will you likely learn this job quickly and become bored and unchallenged?

Diane Speros, who works in publishing, wishes she'd known how she'd spend her days before she took one job early in her career. "All of my time was spent on my boss' personal errands," she said. "This was the 'administrative work.' I never asked how my time would really be split."

What Are the Boss' Strengths and Weaknesses?

This question can be tough to answer, and it's best saved for after the job offer has been extended. You'll want to get a good idea for your potential boss' management style.

Speak to your potential boss as much as possible to get a feel for their personality and what you can live with. Do they micromanage? Will you get consistent feedback and reviews? Do they make small talk, or is every conversation strictly business?

How Much and What Kind of Change Is in the Works at Your Prospective Company?

Constant change at work can mean constant stress. Find out whether any big changes are coming, such as new processing systems or management, impending retirements or adoption of new procedures that still need to be ironed out. At the same time, remember that some of these transitions will have less effect on your position than others.

How Many of My Skills and Experiences Will I Use and Learn?

Make sure your unique skills and talents will be used and that training and promotion are open in the future. When you move on, you'll want to have a new crop of experiences to sell to your next employer. Your goal is to perform well at work while constantly growing and learning.

How Many People Have Held the Position in the Past Several Years?

Knowing how many people have been in your job and why they left can offer you great insights. You'll want to know whether they were promoted or quit altogether. A steady stream of resignations may be a sign you could be reentering the job market soon.

"Five people held that job in one year before I came along," Speros says of her early-career job. "All the others quit within two weeks, as did my successor, whom I trained. I quit after two months and nearly had a nervous breakdown before I left."

While many of the reasons positions eventually become unfulfilling are unavoidable, such as hitting a plateau after repeatedly performing the same duties, job seekers should consider the ways a new position will advance them.

"It's normal to eventually become dissatisfied in any job for a variety of reasons," Jansen said. "What's important is to face it, understand the root of the dissatisfaction and do something about it."

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