22 Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Job

A guide to figuring out if the job offer is right for you.

Written by Jeff Rumage
22 Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Job
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
UPDATED BY
Brennan Whitfield | Sep 29, 2023

Receiving a job offer can be an exciting moment. But throughout the interviewing process, and before you accept an offer, it’s important to slow down and ask some thoughtful questions to make sure the offer, role and company are each a good fit.

While you do that, keep in mind that recruiters and hiring managers don’t find questions annoying. In some ways, asking questions shows that you are thinking seriously about the commitment you are making to the company.

“I always like when a candidate comes prepared with questions,” Alexandra Parker, senior manager of human resources at Public.com, told Built In. “I think it’s very important that they’ve thought about it.”

To that end, below are 22 questions to ask during the interview process. They can help you determine if a job is right for you, so you can feel good about your decision before you say “yes.”

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Questions to Ask About the Role

Your role is your main realm and responsibility at work, so it’s best to uncover as much as possible about it before potentially stepping into it. Here’s a few questions you can ask to help you excel if offered the role.
 

1. What Are the Day-to-Day Responsibilities of This Role?

Knowing the day-to-day responsibilities can give you an idea about the specifics of the role, as well as any tasks unique to the company that aren’t found in the job description. Also, understanding what a day in the life of the role looks like can help you determine if it aligns with your existing job expectations. Maybe the general idea of a role sounds appealing to you, but working with a specific tool or process daily doesn’t — which is where this question comes in handy.

 

2. Why Is the Position Open Now?

Depending on how the hiring manager or recruiter answers this question, it can help you get a pulse on the company’s growth, opportunities for career advancement or its turnover trends.

If the position is open because it is brand new, this can be a solid sign that the company is expanding. Though, it also may be worth it to ask how this new position will grow with the company, and if it will have advancement opportunities similar to other established positions at the company.

If the position is open because the previous employee left, this can suggest they left on their own, were let go by the company or maybe even got promoted to a different position. When no details are given for why the previous employee left, conduct some research on employees’ average time of tenure at the company and be mindful of possible high turnover.

 

3.  What Should I Accomplish in the First 30, 60, 90 Days?

This question can help you gain clarity so you can start developing a plan of attack to address the company’s most pressing pain points. 

“You want to be crystal clear on how you can quickly add value and get some quick wins by providing solutions on low-hanging fruit type of initiatives,” Chelle Johnson, founder of Best You Talent Advisors, told Built In.

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4. What Does Success in This Role Look Like?

This question lets candidates know what management looks for in their star employees, and how one might progress within the company. 

By understanding what measurements are used to evaluate your performance, you might gain more insight into how your professional abilities track with the company’s priorities — and how you might be able to address any areas of inexperience with professional development.

 

Questions to Ask About Company Culture

Ideally, by this stage in the interview process, you have already thought about whether this company’s values and culture align with your own. Company culture is a nuanced topic, though, so it’s understandable if you have more questions on your mind. Whenever possible, try to ask questions that most directly address the organizational dynamics most important to you.
 

5. How Would You Describe the Company Culture?

Company culture affects every aspect of a business, from daily operations and management decisions to how coworkers interact with one another. While company culture is sometimes mentioned on the company’s website or in job descriptions, asking a hiring manager or recruiter to provide specifics about it gives candidates an idea of what the working atmosphere is like from another employee’s perspective. This can help you determine whether or not you would thrive in the culture, and how to best acclimate to it if you take the job.

 

6. What Does the Company Do to Promote Diversity and Equity?

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) involves practices that make all employees feel like they belong and are supported to their fullest extent at work. As such, asking this question can gauge a company’s efforts to help make DEI a priority, what steps are taken to implement these values or if there are any DEI initiatives in place at all — and how this may affect you and your performance as an employee.

 

7. How Does the Company Support Work-Life Balance?

Having a healthy work-life balance can prevent burnout at work and improve mental and physical health, making it an important topic to bring up for many job seekers. You can follow up this question by also asking about flexible scheduling policies, if aspects like PTO can be negotiated or how work-life balance is specifically supported for hybrid or remote employees.

 

8. What Are the Options for Flexible or Remote Work?

If you’re interested in working remotely or want flexible options beyond the traditional office environment, this is a key question to ask. Even if a position is listed as on-site in a job description, asking this question can start a conversation about possible changes or stipulations that can be made about the working location once settled into the job.

 

9. What Are the Biggest Challenges Facing the Company Right Now?

By this point in the conversation, candidates should have researched the company and its position in the marketplace. Still, job seekers are only able to access a limited amount of information from the outside. 

If you’re looking for specifics, you might also want to follow up by asking about the company’s clients, upcoming product launches and how the company is forecasting for the future. 

“Candidates should be really drilling down, especially in the finishing stages, on the company’s health and making sure they are a growing company, a stable company, that’s going to continue to hire and grow,” said Tammy Dain, founder and CEO of recruiting firm Rabble

Candidates may even follow up by asking about general growth statistics, such as quarter-over-quarter growth percentages or similar number milestones. With this, “the recruiter or the hiring manager can share with you a percent growth versus having to actually share revenue dollars and cents,” Dain said. “Then you can stack their growth up against other companies that you’re interviewing with as well.”

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Questions to Ask About Career Development 

If you are serious about growing your career, you should be thinking about how this role aligns with your broader career goals and what your next step might look like. Below are some potential questions you can ask.
 

10. What Would My Initial Training Look Like?

Initial training and onboarding helps new employees get acclimated into their workplace and lays out expectations for the role ahead, so it can be helpful for candidates to get a glimpse of these processes beforehand.

“If they don’t really know what your onboarding will look like, or if they’re just expecting you to show up and get to work, that could be a sign that it’s going to be a hard position to jump into,” said Bonnie Dilber, recruiting manager for Zapier.

Erica Law, founder of fractional recruiting firm Springhouse Talent, added that companies that under-invest in onboarding may not be adequately communicating their expectations for the employee.

 

11. What Professional Development Resources and Opportunities Do You Offer?

Ideally, you could advance your career with a company that will assist you in your career development, either through tuition assistance, on-the-job training or a professional development stipend for conferences and training opportunities. This question will help you learn what resources the company provides to assist you in your growth.

 

12. Do You Typically Promote From Within the Company?

You could ask your direct manager about previous employees in your position to understand if the company nurtures career development — or if employees typically leave the company to reach their goals. If you are earlier in your career, your manager might be able to give you ideas about potential career trajectories in your industry.

 

13. How Often Do Performance Reviews Occur?

The hiring manager has probably discussed what they expect from you, but it can be helpful to understand how and when the company will be evaluating your performance at work. 

By understanding more about the review cycle, you can start setting yourself up for success right away. This also demonstrates that you want to excel in your new job.

“This shows that the person is already thinking about their future and imagining themselves with the company,” Parker said.

 

Questions to Ask About the Team and Hiring Manager 

Your team and manager are people you’ll be working with on a daily basis, so asking about them throughout the interview process can let you know about colleague dynamics and how to best integrate with others in the role.
 

14. Who Is the Manager I’d Report to for This Job?

Knowing who you’ll be reporting to beforehand could give you a headstart on what to expect in management style if you end up accepting an offer. After finding out who your manager could be, this allows you to research further about them (and maybe their own manager), and can give you a better understanding of the company’s overall chain of command.

 

15. How Many People Are on My Team?

This question can give insight into how many people you would be regularly collaborating with, as well as information about the role and possible resources available within the company. 

If you’ll be part of a large team, this can indicate a healthy outlook for your role and department within the company. Though, with several team member voices to bounce off of and consider, team decision-making may take longer and you may have less opportunities to develop a strong relationship with your manager. 

If you’ll be part of a smaller team, this can indicate that your role may be newer or is one that is specialized within the company, though it can also mean a higher chance of tight-knit team and manager relationships.

 

16. How Is Work Divided Among the Team?

It’s helpful to know what your workload will look like on the job, and how the company decides to split up work within and between teams. Are workloads equal between everyone on the team? Or do certain positions have more or less work than others? This information could help you prepare and manage job expectations once in the role.

 

Questions to Ask About the Salary and Benefits 

A competitive salary and benefits package is one of the most sought-after aspects of a new job, so don’t be afraid to ask direct questions about it when the topic comes up.

That said, bringing these questions up might be a bit risky if it’s early in the interview process.
 

17. What Does the Benefits Package Look Like?

Ensure you know what benefits you’ll be receiving before entering a new role, and determine if they meet your needs as an employee. Gather details about offered health insurance, retirement and 401(k) plans, wellness assistance and any other benefits that could support you in your work and encourage you to stay for the long-term.

 

18. Can You Tell Me About Your Paid Time Off (PTO) Policy?

As personal well-being has become a priority for many workers, it can be important to ask about paid time off (PTO) and holidays provided by your employer. 

However, if you ask about PTO during the initial screening with the recruiter, for example, that might raise a yellow or red flag about your work ethic. Recruiters may interpret this as a sign that you are more enthusiastic about time off than the job itself. 

 

19. I Have a Vacation Planned. Is It OK to Still Take That Time Off?

Dilber said she was going through the interview process at Zapier around the same time she was preparing for a vacation. Once the company offered her the job, she felt comfortable asking whether she could take the week-long vacation that was set to begin two weeks after her start date.

“I recommend waiting until the offer stage [for these types of questions] because you don’t want to give them any reason before then to think someone else would be easier to hire than you,” Dilber said.

 

20. How Do the Employee Stock Options Work?

If you’re applying for a job in the tech industry, you should consider asking about stock options and opportunities for gaining equity in the company.

Stock options give you the chance to purchase an equity stake in the company in the future. Companies will typically tell you how many options you are getting and the price at which you can purchase shares.

You could also ask about the vesting schedule and the post-termination exercise period.

 

Questions to Ask About the Job Offer

If a job offer is extended, it’s a good idea to ask about negotiables and your exact starting date. This can show you really are interested in the role and are ready to work alongside the company.
 

21. Is the Offer Negotiable?

This question is a polite way of beginning the negotiation process, but you can also open negotiations by stating your case for a higher salary. 

Candidates should almost always try to negotiate their salary. A company is very unlikely to rescind a job offer if you try to negotiate your salary, unless you are being rude or unrealistic.

If you’ve already done research about comparable salaries, be prepared to have a dollar amount ready. Keep in mind, though, that a recruiter rarely has the authority to approve a higher dollar amount on the spot.

Though, if the recruiter says the offer is firm, ask about other items in the offer that can be negotiated, such as PTO or the number of days you are allowed to work from home, as suggested by Law.

“Usually a work from home policy is a very low-hanging fruit that you can negotiate,” Law said. “Maybe they want you in the office three days a week and you really only want to ideally do two.”

 

22. What Is the Expected Start Date?

Companies will typically tell you what date they would like you to start, but that date might be flexible. The team is probably looking forward to having a new team member that can take on the workload of their predecessor, or they might want to onboard several new hires on the same day. Generally, though, companies also want to make new employees happy and will likely allow you to push back your start date if you explain the circumstances.

 

Too Many Questions?

Recruiters and hiring managers are typically happy to answer a candidate’s questions, but their patience might start wearing thin if there are multiple rounds of follow-up questions or a candidate’s salary expectations skyrocketed beyond the range that was initially discussed.

For in-demand roles, Law said a second or third round of questions may lead the company or recruiter to feel like the candidate is stalling until a better offer comes in. That skepticism can be assuaged, Law said, if the candidate is enthusiastic and expressing interest in the position.

Parker said there is no such thing as too many questions, as long as they feel productive and not redundant with previous questions.

“As long as you’re polite and courteous. I would never ding a candidate based on the questions they asked,” Parker said. “If anything, it would make me excited that they’re being so thorough.”

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