What Questions Do you Ask a Potential Employer?

Mr. Stapler was offered a job! I had a lot of questions for the company. He didn’t ask them during the interview because it’s not really appropriate to ask about vacation time while simultaneously assuring your interviewer that you’ll work hard. Awkward!

I once interviewed when I was four months pregnant (I could hide it the first time around), and I didn’t ask about maternity leave until I was offered the job. After getting the offer, and before accepting, I dropped the bomb: I’m due in five months. I understand if you can’t accommodate a maternity leave. If you can, what is your leave policy?

Thankfully, Mr. Stapler does not have to drop a bomb like that. His potential employer already knows I’m pregnant and has offered him three weeks of paternity leave. Phew! But we still don’t know how many vacation days he’ll get in a normal year and a lot of other little details that can really add up.

Questions To Ask After Receiving an Offer:

  1. Do you have an employee manual that I could read? (This may answer most of the following questions)
  2. How much vacation time do you offer?
  3. How does your sick day policy work?
  4. Health insurance: How much is the premium for our family? What type of insurance is it? (HMO, PPO, high deductible?) If it’s a high deductible plan, How much is the individual and family deductible? Does that plan have coverage in my geographic area?
  5. Do you offer Flex benefits? Dependent Care benefits?
  6. Do you offer a retirement plan? If so, do you match employee contributions? How much?
  7. Do you offer tuition reimbursement or training programs?
  8. What are the office’s typical hours of operation?
  9. How many hours do you want me to work, and during what times?
  10. Are there options to work from home or adjust my schedule?
  11. What is the burn rate of the company after I come on board? (This really just applies to pre-revenue start-ups)
  12. What is the company’s plan for the future? (For this start-up, we’re wondering if the plan is to get acquired and, if not, how they plan to earn revenue)

If you are receiving stock options or equity, transferring intellectual property, or assigning inventions, a lot of your questions about those should be answered by the agreements themselves. Review them carefully and know what they mean before signing. If you don’t know what they mean, find out by researching online, asking an attorney, or asking the potential employer. Just beware that the potential employer may not know what they mean, or — even worse — may not have your best interests in mind. (Anyone who has seen The Social Network knows what I’m talking about!)

At that point, you can crunch the numbers yourself, and compare to your current situation. The cost of benefits can make an incredible difference in your take-home pay, so don’t gloss over those details if you’re changing jobs in order to increase your compensation. If you’re changing jobs to increase your job satisfaction, then you may be more inclined to ask about the non-monetary benefits like vacation and sick time, work hours, and the possibilities for working remotely.

Mr. Stapler is changing jobs so he can get a bump in compensation and do the work he loves to do. This job offer accomplishes both. Although the amount we would pay for healthcare is important, it’s not going to make a difference in whether he takes the job or not, because his salary will increase 60%! It’s perfect timing to pay for my maternity leave and double daycare.

Did we miss any important questions? What’s your #1 concern with a new job, that you would have to ask about before accepting an offer? 

2 thoughts on “What Questions Do you Ask a Potential Employer?

  1. First of all, congratulations! I think you covered pretty much everything I had in mind. Nowadays company’s benefits and perks can make it or break it for me — if I like a company but they have policies that I can’t compromise, I’ll prefer to go and find other companies to work for, unless it’s really my only option. The parental leave for your husband is pretty nice by the way 🙂

    • Thanks! It’s crazy how benefits can really stack up to make a salary seem like a secondary concern. It will be really nice to have him at home for 3 weeks after the baby arrives, and they promised not to make him travel during my last month of pregnancy either.

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