Changing Jobs

5 important questions to ask before starting a new job

Written by Kate Lopaze

You rocked the interview, you got the job offer, you quit your old job, and you’ve been in celebration mode for the past two weeks. Now you’re starting your new role, and it feels like you’ve done everything you need to do. But you really should resist that urge to coast as you get started in your new role. Sure, you’ll be on a learning curve as you get underway, but there’s some important prep to be done as you get ready to start your new job.

There are five big questions you should ask before starting any job.

1. What skills will I need to grow?

The skills and experience you put on your resume won’t be enough forever, even though they got you your new job. It’s important to think about what skills you’ll need to build to be successful. This doesn’t mean you should be gunning for a promotion as soon as you get out of new employee orientation, but it’s never too early to think about your next steps on the career path. What does the next phase of your new job look like? What new or improved skills will you need to become a manager or to bump up your job title in a year or two years?

2. How can I be a valuable team member?

Consider what value you provide to your position even before you start your new job. Through the hiring process, you should be pretty familiar with the outlines of your role and the day-to-day work. Ask your interviewer, What does “success” look like in this role? How does your new company evaluate employees? What does your manager expect you to accomplish?

The ideal time to start gathering that information is during the interview process. Even if you don’t really know what you can do to prove your worth in the short term after you start your new job, definitely start scoping it out as you get settled in the role.

3. How will I fit into the culture?

This is less of a question of whether you’ll like the company’s particular work culture, and more a question on how you plan to acclimate yourself to it. Is it more formal than your last job? More casual? Do people primarily email, or are they a drop-in-and-chat group? Is everyone socializing, or is it more of a head down, earbuds-in office?

One of the biggest keys to a smooth transition into a new job is becoming a member of the team. You were hired because of your unique skills and experience and because you impressed the powers that be, but now that you’re a full member of the team, it’s about making those qualities blend well with the rest of the company.

4. What should I study before I start?

Doing your homework before class starts may not sound great (especially if you’re still wrapping things up at your old job) but asking your new manager if there’s a company website or employee handbook you can read ahead of time is a good idea. It can help ease the onboarding process, when you may be feeling overwhelmed with insurance forms, training sessions, new hire seminars, etc. Reading a bit ahead of time can also help you come up with insightful questions to ask on day one, instead of feeling inundated with information.

5. What do I want to achieve in this job?

While it’s important to think about what you’ll be able to do for your new team, it’s also important to consider what your new position means to you. Maybe this is just an intermediate job where you gain some skills and experience you can apply toward a larger goal. Maybe you see this as an entry into a company where you can grow and develop for a long time. Before you start, think about what your own goals are and what this job does to move you along toward achieving those goals.

Taking the time to stop and think about this fresh start will help set you up for success in your new gig, and can help make those crucial first days feel both more meaningful and less overwhelming. Spending the time and effort now will help set you up for a great tenure at your new organization.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.