Monday, September 29, 2014

Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Job

So you've already owned at a career fair, had your interview, showed off your engineering prowess, asked good questions during your interview, and you secured a job offer. First of all, congratulations! Secondly now is a good time to ask some harder questions, and clarify what your life would be like at the job you are considering. Obviously, you should also be working on negotiating salary and benefits at this point in time, but learning about the work environment, job expectations, etc. is also important at this stage. Some of these questions are less important for internships than for full time positions, since sometimes bad work environments for a short period of time just make for entertaining stories later. So here are some questions my friends and I wished we'd asked before accepting job offers.

What are the facilities like? The environment in which you work can have a massive impact on your experience at your job. Some jobs have you in the field working with or around dangerous equipment with only porta-potties nearby, and others are working in cubicles in shiny office buildings with glass walls. If you are interviewing on site, then this may be self evident. Otherwise, if you have any doubt about your work environment and one of the possibilities is unacceptable to you, ask a specific question to get clarity.

Some people aren't cut out for "roughing it"
What are the core working hours? Some companies require that you be in at a specific time in the morning, others only require a certain number hours of a week. If you cannot function before noon or after 3 pm, this may be a particularly important question.

How much overtime do employees work on average? How much overtime is expected? A lot of jobs end up requiring "unexpected" overtime regularly. The two questions may provide slightly different answers and can help you ascertain if you can maintain the work/life balance you want, and if working 40 hours a week will make you a below average employee.

Is the position exempt or non-exempt? AKA are you paid for your overtime? If not, are there performance bonuses? A lot of times engineers work endless hours and feel like they are taken advantage of. If there isn't a financial award system for people who work longer and harder hours, then there is a good chance there are also a number of dissatisfied employees.

What is the n year attrition rate? Pick a number N that is acceptable to you. I'm partial to 2 years- because many people in the younger generation are only willing to stay 2 years at a job they don't like. This question is important to save until after you've been offered a job, since it may hit too close to home for certain companies.

Am I expected to be on call? How often? This is another requirement that people often find out after starting a job. Some manufacturing, utility, and other engineering jobs require employees to be on call like doctors. That means no drinking and no travelling when you are on call- and the potential to be interrupted from everything from a hot date to a good nights rest. It also means you may not be guaranteed to have regular holidays.

With these questions out of the way and information about salary and benefits, you'll hopefully have all the information you need to decide if you want to take the job or not.



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