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11/25/12 - The Questions You Must Ask Yourself Before Accepting a Job Offer

by Angela Smith — October 15, 2012

Congratulations—you got a job offer! You're thrilled—and you should be—but keep your composure and don't pop the champagne just yet.

Thank the company for the offer, then take some time to really evaluate it before you accept. Remember, this is a place you're (hopefully) going to be for a while, so you want to take the time you need to determine whether it's going to be the right fit for you.

What should you be thinking about at this point? Here's a checklist of questions to ask yourself before you sign on the dotted line.


The Basics
For starters, make sure you and the employer are on the same page when it comes to the basics of the job and what success will look like.

Ask Yourself
Do you have a solid understanding of the work you'll be doing every day?
Have you agreed on a job title that accurately describes the work you'll be doing, fits into the company's existing structure, and meets your professional goals?
How will your success be measured? What are the specific goals and outcomes, and how will you be evaluated?
What are the business hours, and what schedule will you be expected to work?
What is the start date, and when does the company need to have your decision?
If You Don't Have the Answers
If you don't already have it, ask for a copy of the job description and review all of the expectations and responsibilities. If there are differences between what you discussed in the interview and what you see in the job description, or if you have lingering questions, call the hiring manager to get clarification. He or she is probably as eager as you are (if not more so) to have you start, and would be happy to answer your questions.


Salary and Benefits
Your salary and benefits package is a crucial factor when considering a job offer. For one, it's much easier to negotiate on these items before you start the job than it will be down the line. Plus, benefits vary widely from company to company, so you don't want to assume anything in this area.

Ask Yourself
Is the salary in line with comparable positions in your area, and does it work for your personal budget? If not, are you able to negotiate?
What does the benefits package include, and for what benefits are you eligible? When does your eligibility begin?
Are there other benefits the company offers its employees—things like gym memberships, flexible work hours, tuition reimbursement, or wellness programs?
Are there other financial considerations you should make—like a longer or more expensive commute?
If You Don't Have the Answers
Ask for a formal offer letter, if you don't have one, and make sure the salary is put in writing. If you have questions about how your salary compares in your field, do some research on sites like and Payscale, or ask your friends and contacts for advice. When it comes to benefits, many companies have a one-pager that details their benefits package, including co-pays, deductibles, and eligibility periods. Don't be afraid to ask for it, or to ask to speak with a benefits specialist if you have questions.

Your Supervisor
A supervisor can make or break a position, so be sure that you're comfortable with your boss-to-be.

Ask Yourself
What do you think about the people to whom you'll be reporting? Is your supervisor someone you can learn from, and who can and will help you grow?
Will you be given the tools and support you need in order to be successful?
If You Don't Have the Answers
If you didn't get to spend a lot of time with your supervisor during the interview process, see if you can set up a 20-minute meeting with him or her before accepting the position to ask questions and test out the working relationship. Or, ask if you can talk to another employee who reports to the same supervisor. Keep things light, but ask questions that could shed light on your new boss, like, "How would you describe his management style?" or "What do you like best about working for her?"


The Company and Co-workers
We spend far too much time at work to not be happy there. And considering how often you'll interact with colleagues, it's important that your new company and team is a great fit for you personality-wise.

Ask Yourself
Are you comfortable with the company culture and working environment?
Have you met your potential new co-workers? Can you see yourself getting along with them in a professional setting?
Is this a company that you can believe in and feel excited and passionate about?
If You Don't Have the Answers
Talk to anyone you know within the company (or who's worked there before) about what it's like. Don't have any contacts there? Read through the company's website, Facebook page, and current news to get an idea of what working there might be like. You can also check reviews on Glassdoor—though, as with anything, take disgruntled reviews with a grain of salt. Another insider tip: Look up profiles of the company's current and past employees on LinkedIn. Do people typically stay for years at a time? If the company has high turnover, that could be telling.


Your Goals
Finally, as excited as you might be about getting a job offer, it's important not to lose sight of your short- and long-term professional goals.

Ask Yourself
Are you genuinely excited about this job—not just about getting an offer?
Does the position use your talents and skills appropriately?
Will the position help you advance your professional goals? If it doesn't, what are you getting out of it?
If You Don't Have the Answers
Unfortunately, there's nothing the hiring manager can tell you that will answer these questions for you. So plan to spend time seriously thinking about what your goals are and how this position fits into them. Don't be afraid to ask for several days to consider the offer, and take the time you need to make sure it's the right fit.


Once you've answered these questions, you can accept the position—or not—knowing that you've made the most informed decision possible. And remember: No matter how grim the job market may look, you don't have to take just any position that comes your way. After all, it's worth finding a job that'll truly be a good fit and won't have you looking again a few months down the line.


About the Author - Angela has over 10 years of human resources and non-profit administration, and is currently the Director of Human Resources and Career Services at Burlington College in Vermont. A seasoned recruiter, she holds a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification, and was recently named one of Vermont's 40 Under 40 by Vermont Business Magazine.  Angela is a sought after consultant and speaker for workshops on resume writing, job searching tips, and interview techniques. You can find her writing at A Working Evolution,, and In her spare time, she dreams of running away to Paris to study pastry-making.