Earlier this year I discussed 3 Questions You Should Ask Your Interviewer. Turns out there are 9 questions you should ask (oops!). Thus this addendum.
Be sure to put the following to your interviewer (and yourself) before you accept a new position:
“What will be my salary?” (And to yourself: Will this salary be enough?)
Career changers will often accept a lower salary in order to get a foot in the door. But one of those occasional “market corrections” could engender higher inflation, rendering your new salary even lower (in real dollars) than anticipated. So make sure you can pay for your necessities (like your mortgage or rent) before accepting the new gig.
“How (and how often) are raises, bonuses and promotions determined?”
If you prove yourself to be an adept worker, will you be rewarded with raises and/or promotions? How does the company link performance with prize? Is strong performance, in fact, valued and rewarded? Or, will you be in the same position, role-wise and compensation-wise, for the next few years?
“How much must I contribute to my employer-sponsored medical, dental and insurance plans?”
It’s great (it’s even now a requirement) to have health insurance, but having a company-sponsored plan available to you doesn’t mean you can afford it. How much must you contribute in order to participate as an individual, or with dependents? Will your company’s plan cover your same- or opposite-sex domestic partner? Some do, some don’t. You need to find out so you and your dependents can plan coverage accordingly.
“What is the 401k vesting period? When will I be fully vested in the company’s 401-K (or other retirement savings plan)?”
When you start at a new company, you may need to wait two, three (or more) years before your employer’s 401-K matching funds become 100% yours for the taking. In fact, you may need to wait several months or a year before the company will start contributing to your plan at all. This can mean a hit to your long-term savings.
“Can I telecommute part (or all) of the time?”
If working remotely is important to you, you should ask if that kind of flexibility can be had up front, before you accept the position. This, like so many other aspects of your work contract, are difficult to renegotiate after you’ve already signed on the dotted line.
“Will I have a window?” (I’m not talking metaphor here; I mean an actual pattern of glass fixed on the wall!)
This question is more about your day-to-day comfort. Imagine taking a job, only to find out on day-one that you’re sitting in a dark, stuffy, or cold basement. You may not care, but many do, and research suggests that natural light is part of a healthy work environment.
Sure, just simply having a job these days is nothing to offhandedly dismiss, but neither is your future or your physical well-being. Asking questions like these will make sure that your worth as a human being is not compromised. To not betray your best interests IS just as important as picking up a weekly paycheck. Please don’t forget this.
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