12 Questions To Ask HR Before Accepting A Job Offer
Finding a job is rarely easy. You can spend months and months submitting applications and going to interviews without any results. When you invest a lot of time and effort without getting to the final interview and signing that much-coveted contract, you can get frustrated.
It’s no wonder that the typical response to a job offer is a resounding yes. But if you do that too quickly, you won’t know if what you have is a fair offer. You wouldn’t want to end up underselling yourself and feeling taken advantage of and resentful. Besides, it’s your right to ask questions and negotiate a job offer. You might as well exercise it.
In this article, let’s look at 12 questions you should ask HR first before accepting a job offer. But first, here are the other benefits you can get if you take the time to ask.
WHY ASK QUESTIONS BEFORE ACCEPTING A JOB OFFER
When you ask HR relevant questions before accepting a job offer, you don’t just ensure you get fair employee compensation. You also ensure that you will be equipped to perform your new role well, should you accept. That’s because knowing what the company expects from you from the start can help you prepare for your first day at work.
Maybe you need to wear casual clothes because you have a whole-day practical orientation to attend. Perhaps you need to report to the HR manager first before going to your immediate supervisor. Maybe you need to sign in on an employee timesheet app to be marked as present.
Don’t expect HR people to tell you all these things (even if they are supposed to) because sometimes, people can be forgetful. Be proactive so you can be the best employee you can be.
Your new manager and the company will welcome your proactivity. Who doesn’t like that in a new team member?
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE ACCEPTING A JOB OFFER
Now that you know the benefits of asking, let’s look at the questions to ask before accepting a job offer. You don’t need to ask all of them (though you can if they all happen to be pertinent!). Just choose the ones you think are the most relevant to you, the role, and the company.
1. Is the Salary Negotiable?
There’s nothing wrong with asking if your salary is negotiable. If you think you have more to offer and deserve more than their initial offer, ask your potential employer if you can negotiate the compensation.
If the HR manager says there’s leeway, then counter the company’s salary offer and explain why you think you deserve that amount.
Make sure your proposal is not way off the market average salary for that position in your area and also takes into account any relevant experience or skills you bring to the table. Here are other tips you should follow as you negotiate salary:
On the other hand, if the HR manager says it’s non-negotiable, you’ll have to decide if the salary on offer is acceptable to you or if you want to look for other opportunities elsewhere.
2. What Health Benefits Does An Employee Have?
Compensation is not the only thing you should ask HR before deciding to take the job. You need to know your other benefits, such as healthcare provision, so you can make an informed decision about the job offer.
Ask what your health provider options are, the amount you need to pay into the health plan yourself, and the health coverage. Does the plan also cover your family? You’d need to ask when the health coverage takes effect, too, because employer-provided insurance can have waiting periods of up to 90 days.
Remember, a generous salary is not always enough. You need health benefits that suit your needs and your family’s too. It’s best to ask everything you want to know before you accept a job offer so you can avoid those unpleasant surprises later on.
3. How Many Days of Leave Does An Employee Get?
The HR manager probably expects you to include this among your questions to ask before accepting a job offer. Why shouldn’t you ask it? It’s your right to get some time off work.
Ask the number of days of paid time off (PTO) you get in a year. Do those days roll over to the next year if you don’t use them? Does the company close for holidays, or do you still need to work? If you need to work, will the company pay you extra?
Don’t just ask about vacation time. Before you accept a job offer, know what the sick time and family leave policies are, too. It pays to know if the company gives you time off if your family member is sick. If it’s not flexible, then you can decide if that’s a deal-breaker for you or not.
4. Will the Company Shoulder Relocation Expenses?
If you have to relocate for the job, you need to know if the company will shoulder some of the expenses. There’s no one-size-fits-all here. Some companies are extremely generous with relocation expenses, others won’t cover anything.
Larger companies usually have standardized procedures. All you need to do is ask. They may cover any of the following expenses:
- Moving costs
- Temporary lodging costs
- Travel costs back home, assuming you relocate before your family moves with you
- Job search assistance for your spouse
- Help in selling your house
If the company doesn’t have a standard policy, ask if it’s possible to get some assistance. You might be surprised at the answer. An Allied Van Lines survey said approximately 26.4% of its 1,000 respondents received some moving incentives. 15.75% of respondents received help with temporary living expenses, 12.05% received a discretionary expense allowance, and 8.7% received a lump sum for miscellaneous expenses.
If the HR manager says the company will help you with relocation expenses, get it in writing. You don’t need a formal contract. A simple letter detailing what you talked about and a company representative’s signature is enough.
5. What Is The Job Description?
Don’t assume you already know what the position you applied for entails. Before you accept the job offer, make sure you ask for a more specific job description and understand what your key tasks will be. This is also the ideal time to ask about your work schedule and to whom you will report.
The more specific your questions, the more detailed and useful the answers you’ll get.
If you like what HR tells you about the job description, go ahead and accept the job offer, assuming the other terms are also agreeable to you.
6. How Does The Company Evaluate Employees?
Once you know what your new job will entail, it’s also important to understand how your performance will be assessed.
If the HR manager can’t give you a standard evaluation process, you might want to think twice about accepting the job offer. If the company doesn’t have a formal assessment process, it might indicate that it doesn’t care about its employees’ professional development.
Asking how the company evaluates its employees also helps you plan your future should you take the job offer.
The earlier you know how the company assesses its employees, the more prepared you can be to dive in and excel from day one.
7. What Are the Opportunities for Professional Growth?
Don’t forget to ask how you can grow in the company. No one wants a dead-end job, and you presumably want to grow in your career and climb the ladder.
Ask the HR manager if there’s room for growth. Does the company have a culture of promoting from within, or do people typically stay for just a few years and then move on?
You might be interested in learning new skills outside your comfort zone as well. Before you accept the job offer, ask if training, development, and mentorship opportunities are available to help you enhance your skillset.
If the HR manager gives you excellent and specific responses, it means the company has a plan for each employee and cares about their professional development. If they’re vague or non-committal, you might find that the job offers limited opportunities for growth.
8. What Is the Company Culture?
It’s important to ask what the company culture is, so you’ll know if you’ll be a perfect fit. Do the bosses hang out with their subordinates? Is everyone on a first-name basis? Or are the bosses way up there where you can’t reach them?
You can ask for a tour of the office, too. That is one way you can see if the company has a diversified culture. If you see laughing employees hanging out and having lunch, you can deduce there’s camaraderie in the workplace. On the other hand, if the office is very quiet and serious, you might decide that you can’t see yourself fitting in there.
Once you understand the culture, you can make your decision about your job offer, depending on your preferences.
9. What Are the Company’s Expectations In How Employees Communicate?
Ask the HR manager what the company expects from its employees in terms of communication outside office hours. Are employees supposed to answer the phone if their immediate boss is calling on a workday, even if it’s at 2 a.m.? Or are they allowed not to answer the phone?
What about during weekends? Does the company expect employees to answer emails even on Saturdays? Or can replies wait until Monday?
Asking this question will help you know how the company values its employees’ time outside the workplace. In other words, you’ll know if their communication policies suit your preferences. A company that expects 24/7 responsiveness may have poor work/life balance and boundary issues, so make your decisions accordingly.
10. How Long Do Employees Last In the Company?
You might not get an honest answer in this one, but it’s still worth a try to ask it.
Knowing how long employees last in the company will give you an idea of employee satisfaction. If employees don’t usually last long, you might want to think twice about accepting the job offer. That can imply that the company doesn’t care much about its employees or that there are underlying problems driving them away. That could mean anything from the work being overly demanding to the immediate supervisor being difficult to work with.
On the other hand, if employees stay for years and many remain with the company until retirement, then you might just have found the ideal company and job.
If HR gives you the runaround or won’t give you a straightforward answer to this question, that can still tell you something about the company and help you make an informed decision about whether or not to accept the job offer.
11. Are There Any Other Details I Should Know About The Offer?
Before you accept the job offer, ask detailed questions about it. That will help you determine whether or not you’re okay enough with the terms before you go ahead with the hiring process.
Is there a sign-on bonus? Do you get telecommuting perks? Can you work from home once in a while? Are there stock options? Do you get to travel? Whatever is important to you, this is your opportunity to ask about it.
You can only make an informed decision about whether or not you’re interested in the job once you get a complete picture of what the company is offering.
12. What Are The Next Steps?
Before you accept the job offer, it pays to know what will happen should you decide to move forward.
So ask about the next steps in the hiring process and when you would be expected to start work. You need to know the documents you need to submit, too. For example, are you expected to provide proof of your qualifications? Don’t forget to request a detailed explanation of the onboarding process as well.
The answers to these questions can help you decide whether to push through with the hiring process. For example, you might get turned off by the overly exacting requirements you need to submit after accepting the offer. Or you might find the lack of a specific process to onboard new employees a deal-breaker.
Assuming you take the job, asking the next steps will help you prepare in advance for your first day at work. So if you have to go to an orientation on your first day, you’ll be ready with your pen and paper, and you’ll know just where to go. If you need to submit a picture for your company identification card, you can have that on hand when you report to HR on the first day. Informed is prepared!
Job hunting is a grueling process. You need to write an attention-grabbing resume. You need to look for job posts that fit your qualifications. After that, the waiting game begins. It can be weeks or months before a company contacts you for a written test or an interview for the position. Then, after the interview, you’re left waiting again.
However, all these should not be an excuse for you to accept a job offer blindly. When a company makes you an offer, you need to scrutinize it and ask HR relevant questions first. If you don’t do your due diligence now, you might end up in a dead-end position in a company you hate or working for a nightmare boss.
In this article, we gave you 12 questions to ask before accepting a job offer. The questions are varied and will provide you with a complete picture of what you should expect if you decide to go through with the hiring process.
You don’t need to ask every question, though. You can choose only the ones that are relevant and that you are most concerned about. It pays to be as exhaustive as possible, too, so don’t forget you can always ask other questions that are not on this list.
Ask and weigh the pros and cons. If you do, you’ll land that perfect job in an ideal company. Here’s to your dream job!
Owen Jones is the Senior Content Marketer at ZoomShift – an online schedule maker app. He is an experienced SaaS marketer, specializing in content marketing, CRO, and FB advertising.
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