Before accepting a job, it’s important to understand a few things about the company (and about yourself). The last thing you want to do is take a job now only to leave in six months because you’re miserable. Here are some things you should think about before accepting that job offer:
1. Do I like the people I’d be working with at this company?
The truth is, you’re not going to get along with everybody, and no everybody is going to get along with you. However, it’s important to realize that you’ll be spending the majority of your days with your co-workers. While you don’t necessarily have to be buddy-buddy with them, you want to make sure you can at least get along so you can work together effectively.
Make an effort to get to know the people you’d be working with before moving too far into the hiring process. This will not only help you learn who they are and if you’d be able to get along with them, but it’ll also strengthen your network within that company. Having good relationships with people who work within your target companies can increase your chances of getting referred in.
2. Will I be able to leverage my strengths in this position?
Before accepting a job, it’s important to get a clear idea of what you’ll be doing everyday. If you’re not going to be able to spend the majority of your time leveraging your strengths and working on projects that energize you, you might not get very much satisfaction out of the job.
Talk to people who know about the position and can give you an idea of what it’s like (i.e. someone who currently works in the role, someone who used to work in the role, people who work in the department, etc). Ask about what they spend the majority of their time doing, what they like and dislike about the job, and so on, to get an idea of what to expect.
3. Does the work environment mesh with my work style?
Think about it: you’re going to be spending 40 hours at this job (give or take). You want to make sure the environment is going to work for you. For example, if you don’t work well under pressure, you probably don’t want to work in an environment that’s face-paced and stressful. It won’t allow you to reach your highest potential because you won’t be able to work effectively.
“Open offices allow people to share ideas and interact with each other, which is attractive to many young people,” said office-design expert Jonathan Webb of global manufacturer KI Furniture. “However, they aren’t for everyone.”
Talk to people who work within the organization and ask them questions like, “How would you describe the work environment?” and “What do you like and dislike about the work environment at the company?” (P.S. There are some other very important questions you should ask during the job interview that can make or break your candidacy. Watch these videos to learn more).
Also, if you’re offered the opportunity to go on a tour during the first interview, take it and see what it’s like. If not, wait until the final stages of the interview process to ask for a tour. If the workspace is an open, collaborative environment and you work best in a quieter area, you might ask, “Is there a place I can go and concentrate?”
“My advice to job seekers would be to look for companies that accommodate a variety — private spaces, collaborative spaces, as well as offsite and mobile,” said Webb. “First-time job seekers in particular may not realize their ideal work setting until after they’ve started working, and having options allows them to transition much more easily.”
(Webb recently co-wrote a research paper on how employers can use this philosophy of “collegiate design” to attract and keep top millennial talent. You can read it here.)
4. Do I like the leadership style at this company?
This is something many don’t really consider before accepting a job at a new company. However, understanding the leadership style and determining if it’s going to work for you is a major factor when it comes to your success and satisfaction at work.
Talk to the people you know within the company/department and ask them how they would describe leadership at their companies. Ask questions like, “How would you describe the department head’s leadership style?” or “How do you like working with the manager?”
5. Can I relate to the company values and beliefs?
If your values and beliefs don’t match up with the company’s, you won’t be truly invested in what you’re doing. And, in some cases, you might even resent what your company is working toward, which is definitely not something you want to be doing as an employee.
I had a client who was interviewing at a lawn care company and, after learning more about the company, she realized that they used pesticides that she couldn’t really vouch for based on her environmental views. The use of these pesticides really made her reconsider whether or not she wanted to compromise her values and work for this company. So, it’s very important for you to understand your core beliefs and values and see how they match up with the company’s before you commit to moving forward with the organization.
6. Will the location of this company work for me?
Be honest – do you really want to drive an hour and a half to and from work? If that doesn’t bother you, then that’s great. However, if this is something that is NOT going to work with you based on your schedule, lifestyle, family commitments, and so on, you need to take this into serious consideration. Commute is a bigger factor in a job than you might think. Make sure you don’t ignore it! Depending on your situation, it might even be worth moving. If you’re considering relocation, watch this video first.
7. Does this company offer the salary and benefits I need?
Finally, you need to judge whether or not the salary and benefits are going to meet your needs. Research competitive salary rates for that role in that industry, then create a range.
If you the employer can’t pay you at least your “walk away” rate, you might want to consider negotiating or finding another opportunity (What’s a “walk away” rate? Watch this video to find out). It’s not worth compromising on salary if it’s not going to meet your basic needs (i.e. rent/mortgage, transportation, food, etc).
You also want to consider the benefits. Do you need a flexible work schedule so you can pick up the kids from school? Do you need health/dental insurance? Work from home opportunities? Consider what benefits the company offers its employees carefully and determine what you need.
So, before you go “all in” on a job, make sure you know the answers to these questions. Not only can they save you from a bad fit, but they can help you figure out what you want in both a company and a job. (Oh, and if you want to say “I’m outtie” to your current job, check out this article, “5 Things You MUST Consider Before Quitting Your Job“).