It is a harsh reality for job-seekers that our judgment is most impaired at exactly the point when we need our senses most the moment when we’re evaluating a job offer.
We fall into the whirlpool very easily on a job search, as soon as a company is interested in us. We see the finish line to a tedious job search and our judgment falls away. Our senses abandon us.
When we should be asking tough questions, we think “I want that offer!” and if we get it, we sign it and say “Phew! At least I have a job now.”
Then the painful learning comes. If you’ve ever taken a horrible job just because you were desperate, you know what I’m talking about. You can tell within two days on the job that it’s not the right place for you, but you’ve painted yourself into a corner.
You have to decide then whether to wage a new, under-the-radar job search and get a new job while you’re working at the job you’ve got, or just walk out and hope for the best.
Here are five questions that will help you make a smarter decision when you’re considering a job offer. If you feel nervous about asking these perfectly reasonable questions of your next boss, a recruiter or an HR person, take that as a warning.
Why shouldn’t you ask these sensible questions before you commit yourself to a new job? If you feel hesitant to ask them, that’s a bad sign!
What is an ordinary workday like here — in terms of working hours? I know some companies start very early and finish early, for instance. In some places everybody makes their own hours. How does it work here?
You have to know if the employer you’re considering joining is the kind of place where an ordinary workday starts at eight a.m. and ends at eight p.m. You have to ask them what constitutes a workday!
How do you handle communication after hours and on the weekends? At one of my jobs, I stayed in pretty close touch with my boss when we had big projects brewing, so we’d text and email on the weekend. At my last job we didn’t do much of that. How does it work here?
Don’t fail to ask this question and get a stuck in a situation where you have no peace because the office is always calling and texting you. That happened to our client Belinda, whose boss texted her from the ski lift line to ask her to revise a report. He also texted the note ‘I’ll call you when I get down the hill.’
Belinda didn’t stay long in the job after that, but she wished she had asked her boss about his expectations before he became her boss.
How do you handle time off requests for a person in this position? I don’t have any specific plans coming up but I wanted to find out how you deal with situations when somebody needs a few hours or a day off work, for instance. Can you tell me about that?
Some companies and some managers take time-off requests in stride and others cannot handle them. We had a client years ago who walked out of a new job before she even got to her desk. She asked a question in new-employee orientation about an appointment she had coming up.
She would have had to miss forty minutes of work at the end of the workday during her third week on the job.