You nailed all the interviews. The hiring manager and your potential boss have kept in close contact with you during the process. You’ve been introduced to the team.
You know in your gut that the job is yours if you want it. And their call offering you the position confirms you’re right.
You’re excited. They’re excited. You’re starting to envision your new paycheck hitting your bank account, taking advantage of the gym perks they promised, and ordering mojitos at happy hour with your new co-workers.
It’s easy to get caught up in the opportunity and the flattery – especially if you really need the job. But before you jump right in, step back and ask yourself these questions to determine if this is truly the right gig for you.
Were there any red flags during the interview process? It’s easy to dismiss weird or quirky behavior when you really want the job. But think back – did everybody give you their utmost attention? If you’re in a group interview and the highest level decision-maker in the room is on their iPhone reading emails, is that someone you want to report to? Beware, because that behavior is a tell-tale sign of how employees are treated down the line.
How to know it’s a deal breaker: Look, people are busy. Especially those at the top. But if that highest level decision-maker is repeatedly head down into their phone without apology, even when they are the one asking you the questions, do a body check. Do you feel the red heat of anger rising? Do you feel desperate to get their attention? Check yourself before you wreck yourself and ask, “Is this job really worth this type of treatment?”
Are your potential co-workers more than just talking heads? It can be a challenge to get the real scoop on a workplace when you’re going through the interview process. However, closely observe the body language and verbal cues from people on the existing team. Are they giving you real answers to your questions or just a canned response that is clearly a requirement for them to say? Pay attention to anything negative or alarming about your potential boss or workplace that comes up from team members in off-handed remarks. Depending on the culture, assess jokes and sarcasm. While sometimes they can offer a light-hearted connection, often times, they can mask toxic energy and disgruntled employees. Not something you want to deal with in your new job!
How to know it’s a deal breaker: You don’t trust anyone at the table. It all sounds good on paper, they say the right things, but the vibe is awkward and your intuition is screaming at you to run. An associate is looking at you rolling her eyes when your potential boss speaks, and you can tell no one respects anyone. Do you want to be part of that circus?
Are they open to your requests when negotiating salary and perks? The negotiation stage is your time to request what you want. Whether that’s a certain salary, a flex schedule, or an extra week of vacation time, this is your very best chance of getting what you want since they are looking to get you in the door. Pay attention to how they respond to your requests. If you make a reasonable request like wanting to work from home once a month on Friday, and they say, “Unfortunately, we aren’t set up for telecommuting and it’s not something this company allows,” that can tell you volumes about their workplace culture and how much they are willing to be flexible.
How to know it’s a deal breaker: They say no to something you really need to be the most productive and happy on the job. You feel disappointed and deflated. They are rushing you to make a decision and everything has a sense of urgency.
What’s your workspace like? Some people don’t care where they work and that’s cool. But if you’re someone who gets claustrophobic in cubicles, can’t stand to hear your office mate listen to their voice mails on speaker phone, or gets ill from too much gray on the walls, you have to take this into consideration. Are you an introvert who needs a lot of quiet time to work? Or are you an extrovert that can sit at a communal desk and chat the day away? Think about the space and what you'll need because you’ll likely be there more than you are at home.
How to know it’s a deal breaker: If you know it will impact your health and well-being over the long term. There is no sense accepting a cubicle job if you have a fear of small spaces. Or say yes to that communal table when you’re not a big fan of people. Be honest with yourself here. Do you feel like it’s a place you would enjoy coming to every day?
Is your boss a leader or a manager? There is a difference – and it will matter depending on what you want to get out of your job. If you’re looking to just collect a paycheck this may not matter to you. But if you’re looking for a mentor or someone to learn from, take a hard look at your potential boss. Are there any signs of micro-managing? Does the team seem inspired, well-rested, and generally excited by what they are doing? What’s your potential boss’ management style? This is a totally appropriate question to ask during the interview process and can make or break whether your experience at the company is a good one.
How to know if it’s a deal breaker: Check into your boss tolerance threshold. Are you OK with being a “yes” person and just doing what your boss tells you to do, no questions asked? Is there any indication that the company thrives on hierarchy? Do you sense a connection with your potential boss or do you get the feeling they just need to fill the position? Feel it out, ask questions, and have an idea as to what you value going into the interview.
Can you see yourself growing at this job? Take a look around and ask how promotions work at the company. This is a great question to direct at your future co-workers. Does it take five years to move up a level? How does supervision work? How do they do performance reviews? Do they provide professional development opportunities? Learning more about these policies can tell you a lot about whether there is room for growth. Aside from that, investigate how upper-level management treats their staff. What they say and what they actually do can be different, so do your research by talking to current and former employees, checking out Glassdoor for testimonials, and understanding how this all works so you know what you’re getting into.
How to know if it’s a deal breaker: Everyone seems like they are just waiting to jump ship. You hear side conversations when people think you aren’t around about how much the place sucks. Your potential boss neglected to talk about any growth potential, even when you brought it up – twice. You’ve been offered a job, not a role.
Accepting a new job can be exciting, life changing, and yes, feel like you’re jumping off a cliff into the unknown. Stay grounded in what you want out of the experience, do your research, and make sure you have answers to your questions before you take the plunge. Think about how much you’re willing to compromise and over what things. You won’t know everything and there will be some blind spots, but that’s part of taking on something new. Remember, you can always ask your co-workers to fill in the rest over mojitos.