It’s been a long and frustrating job search.  You scoured hundreds of job postings, applied to so many you lost count, attended so many job fairs that you have a colorful collection of tote bags filled with collectibles, and interviewed with so many recruiters that you anticipated their next questions.  And now you just got a great job offer.  But wait.  Make sure you ask and get the answers to the following questions:

  1. Why did the last person leave the job? You may not get much of an answer but you might.  The person may have been transferred or promoted (and is possibly your new boss) but s/he may have been terminated. Be sure to pose the question professionally and be ready to state that you are committed to being open to any changes within the company based on that experience.
  2. What set me apart from the other candidates you interviewed? Since you invested so much time in your resume, networking and interviewing, you deserve to know what attracted them to you and how your qualifications match up to the job.  If they can’t provide you with specific information which validates your individual background, they may be looking for a warm body to fill the position. That may mean that they aren’t as invested in you as you are in the company.
  3. Who will I be reporting to? In some positions, you may report to a training specialist or new-hire supervisor for a short time, followed by reporting to another individual.  This is an opportune time to make sure you understand the organizational structure and where you fit.  From there, you will be able to better understand the career paths available as well.
  4. What are your short-term and long-term expectations and goals for this position? After what may be a short answer, you can ask for more details by inquiring as to how your success will be measured.  Many companies assess performance with metrics and measurable factors such as feedback.
  5. What is the most important thing I should know before starting the job?  So far, you have been answering lots of questions so now is your time to ask in order for you to understand what you are walking into.  Every organization has its challenges and you get a jump start on your new job by having time to understand them and how you might contribute to the solutions before you actually begin the job. Depending upon the answer, you will be able to tell the scope of the challenges.  Perhaps it is to take the company from #4 spot to #2 in the marketplace or maybe it is to completely change the leadership team, translating to the possibility of you working for a different set of people from when you start.

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