10 questions before you accept a job offer (part 1)

Finally, all the effort and stress, applications and interviews have been worth it: you’ve got a job offer! They want you over all the rest and what’s more they are going to pay you! You feel on top of the world – proud, self-confident, excited and a bit nervous. What’s not to accept?

But hold your horses. You’re about to commit a huge portion of your waking life to this work, so it’s important to be sure it’s all it’s cracked up to be. Here are ten questions every successful job applicant should ask him or herself before finally signing on the dotted line.

1. Do I know exactly what I’m getting myself into? 

Job ads aren’t usually written in plain English and you may have been so busy trying to impress at interview that you neglected to ask exactly what on earth being “highly flexible in a high-pressure environment” or “juggling the demands of the team” mean in the context of this particular job. Lurking behind the jargon could be something that you weren’t bargaining on. Always clarify any details of the job that you still aren’t sure about with your prospective manager before you accept their offer.

2. What’s in it for me?

We take jobs for a whole range of reasons, and not always because it’s everything we’ve ever dreamed of. No job is perfect, but what is it that makes you excited and optimistic about this one? Your passion for the task? Money? Flexibility? Convenience? Great benefits? Is it a stepping stone to the job you really want? It is important to be clear what you can realistically expect to gain from the job – this is what you will weigh the inevitable drawbacks of the job against.

3. What’s the trade-off?

For all that you gain, there will be sacrifices you will have to make if you are to succeed. These demands may have implications for your work–life balance, career prospects, and even your mental and physical health. Will you have to work late? Will you miss out on important family or social time? Will it be stimulating enough? Will it be too stressful? For the job to be a positive move for your career and life in general, the benefits need to be enough to make the sacrifices worth it.

4. Do I have the time for this job?

One sacrifice that is often underplayed is the daily commute. Tantalised by the prospect of a fantastic job in another town, it’s easy to view travel time as a mere detail – something that’s not going to be an issue. The average Brit spends 56 minutes a day commuting to work and many UK workers have considerably longer journeys to and from work than this. If you suspect your commute could be unsustainable, try the route out a few times at rush hour to see how long it will really take. Don’t underestimate the strain it could put on your life, health and family members. Find out what your employer can do for you in terms of flexible working (e.g. flexitime, working from home and working on the move).

5. Who am I going to be working with?

Who you work with is at least as important as what you are doing, so ask your would-be boss if you can meet the team before you commit yourself. You’ll be spending around a third of your waking life with these people, so it’s important you like most of them! Feel supported and you can thrive; throw yourself in with the wrong people and it can have devastating consequences for your self-confidence and career. First impressions aren’t a guarantee you will fit, but they can give you a pretty good idea of how likely you are to fit in or feel like a fish out of water.

Also try to get a sense of the workplace culture and whether it’s an environment you are going to enjoy: is the atmosphere relaxed or fast-paced? Friendly or competitive? Formal or informal?

This article continues here: 10 questions before you accept a job offer (part 2).

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