It feels amazing to finally receive that coveted job offer you’ve been after. In your excitement, it can be tempting to respond with an enthusiastic “yes!” without a second thought. But hold your horses–don’t pop the champagne just yet. There are a few things you need to ask your prospective employer’s HR department about before you officially accept a job offer.
Sometimes, there are topics that don’t come up during the interview process or don’t feel quite right to ask about before the company lets you know you’re the candidate they want. Other times, you might think of things that give you pause after the offer has come in, and you want to confirm with 100% confidence the position is what you expect it to be.
This is why we always recommend taking 24 hours to review a job offer before giving an answer. Even if you’re totally gung-ho about the job, you might have questions that aren’t necessarily deal breakers, but that are important to clarify nonetheless.
Talk with HR about these essential topics
1. Dress code
By the offer stage of the hiring process, you probably have enough of an idea about the company culture to know whether it’s a formal or casual work environment. But how exactly does that translate to your wardrobe? Not only do you need to have the right duds for your first day, but you want to be sure there aren’t any rules that make employment there a no-go, like a no-tattoos policy if you’ve got ink you can’t cover up.
Ask for a copy of the dress code, which most companies will be able to give you in writing. This will lay out the company’s expectations for how workers will dress along with any specific no-no’s that go beyond clothing. Some offices, for example, don’t allow fragrances, while others might require a certain type of footwear.
2. Work hours
In addition to finding out what your hours will be, ask about how rigid the company is with scheduling. Are you expected to be in your office from 9 to 5 regardless of your workload, or can you flex your time as long as your work is getting done? Do employees arrive at 8 a.m. on the dot, or do people make their way in between 8 and 9? Understanding the company’s norms around work hours will help you make a good first impression and avoid any schedule-related snafus in your early days on the job.
Depending on where you live, transportation logistics could have a major impact on whether taking a job is feasible. If you plan on commuting via car, find out whether you’ll have access to convenient, affordable parking. If nearby parking costs money, ask if the company covers or assists with the cost.
It’s important to learn the details of the company’s benefits package so you can compare offers from multiple companies against each other and avoid unpleasant surprises later on. The two big benefits to ask about are insurance and retirement.
Some good questions to ask about insurance are whether the company offers health, dental and vision coverage, who the providers are, how soon you’ll be eligible, and what portion of the premium you’ll be responsible for. When it comes to retirement benefits, find out how soon you’re eligible to contribute, what amount (if any) the company matches, and if you have to remain employed for a certain amount of time (this is called vesting) to be fully entitled to the matched contributions.
While perks are typically viewed as nice-to-haves rather than essentials, they can certainly help you get excited about a position. And, if the company’s perks are well-aligned with the things you value, it can make for a job you’re really satisfied with. So, find out if the company offers any additional perks like tuition reimbursement, employee discounts or wellness programs that might make it even more enticing to work there.
6. Reimbursable expenses
Your employer may reimburse certain work-related costs that can lower your monthly expenses and supplement your overall compensation. Some commonly covered expenses include training, your cell phone bill and business use of your personal vehicle. In light of the widespread shift to remote work, it’s also become more common for employers to cover some or all of the costs of supplies for a home office.
7. Paid time off, including sick policy
Asking about vacation time during the interview process can be tricky, so it’s something you’ll definitely want to find out about once an offer is on the table. In addition to asking how much paid time off and sick leave you’ll have, find out whether you’ll accrue additional time as you gain seniority, whether vacation days roll over from one year to the next and whether you’re able to “cash out” unused days at the end of the year.
8. Company holidays
Holidays will vary widely by country and whether your job is in the public or private sector. You’ll want to find out what these holidays are and whether you’ll be paid for them even when you have the day off.
Some employers offer holiday pay to employees who work on a holiday. In America, the most common paid holidays are New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
9. Start date
When considering whether the proposed start date works for you, be realistic about how much time you need. Make sure you have sufficient time to wrap up projects and give notice at your current job, take any unused vacation days, and find a new place if you’re relocating. If the start date is flexible, you may also choose to build in some time off between finishing your old job and starting your new one. You’re in a stronger position to negotiate a start date that works best for you when you’ve already received an offer.
If you’re planning on moving for this position, you’ll have a lot to think about besides just starting a new job. There’s finding a new place to live, moving out of your old place, and getting all your stuff from one location to the other. Here are some good things to discuss with your potential employer:
- Does the company pay for relocation or reimburse new hires for their moving expenses? If so, how much?
- Are there certain moving expenses that aren’t covered?
- Can you make your start date contingent on selling your house?
- Does the company offer any assistance with short-term housing while you look for a new home?
Any relocation assistance your company can offer will take a bit of the burden of moving off your shoulders.
Receiving a job offer is exciting. By taking a day to collect your thoughts and formulate a list of questions before making a decision, you’ll ensure that the position is aligned with your expectations and have the chance to negotiate an even better deal if anything is lacking from the initial offer.