The interviews are over, the offer letter is signed, and the congratulatory toasts have been made. It’s official, you got the job!
You will have a lot of information thrown at you during your onboarding, not to mention adjusting to a new workplace culture and getting to know your new coworkers… it can all be a lot to digest.That’s why one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success in your new role is to be a Curious George and ask questions.
Here are eight must-ask questions to set you up for success.
1. Is there any material I can read in advance of my start date?
Most organizations have some type of collateral, such as an employee handbook, which outlines basic information about company policies, organizational structure, and information pertinent to your role. Asking this question and studying this material prior to your start date gives you a jump start to understanding the business and your role in it.
Being proactive also shows your new employer that you are engaged and ready to hit the ground running. This will also help you come prepared with questions to ask during orientation. For instance, reviewing the employee handbook in advance can allow you to clarify questions about HR policies, compensation, dress code, etc.
2. Who are my team members and what are their roles?
You may or may not have met your new team members during the interview process. During your orientation, ask to be introduced to all your team members and get a rundown of what their role is and how and when you will be collaborating with them. Understanding what each person is responsible for will help you determine who is the appropriate person to which to direct certain questions. This will also help you learn more about how your role operates.
You can also take this opportunity to introduce yourself to your team members and give them a brief rundown of what you bring to the table.
3. What is the biggest priority/challenge you’re working on right now?
This question helps you get an understanding of the biggest pain your team is facing right now. You will have a lot of responsibilities and tasks to get up to speed on quickly; asking this question helps you understand what you should address first in order to align yourself with the current goals and priorities of your team and the organization.
4. How is X done and why?
As the new employee in the office, you may want to demonstrate your skills and ideas in order to ‘prove yourself’ to your team. While you may have a lot of great ideas to contribute, it’s important to wait until you understand where in the narrative you are entering the story.
By figuring out what came before you and where your organization is today, you can bring your new ideas to the table with a better grasp of the organization’s overall strategy and with respect and knowledge of existing processes.
5. What does the organizational ‘culture’ look like on a daily basis?
You likely discussed organizational culture during the interview process, but it’s important to understand what this actually looks like day-to-day. During your first few weeks, observe how the office runs and ask questions to confirm what you are seeing.
How do team members prefer to collaborate and communicate? In person? On the phone? By email? Are you expected to be available outside of office hours and to work on projects at home? How can you get involved? Are there any sports teams or committees?
Understanding the organizational culture will help you determine if you and the company are the right fit for each other. Hopefully, you will have figured this out before you accepted the job offer, however, it is still better to figure this out after a few weeks rather than a few months or years.
6. What does success look like for my role?
Chances are you read through a list of expected responsibilities for your role and talked about what your function will be during the interview phase. However, it’s not enough to simply know what you will be doing – you should also ask questions to understand what success will look like for your role.
Clarify what goals and milestones exist and how quickly you are expected to be autonomous for certain tasks. For instance, if you are in sales, what targets should you be aiming to reach each week, month, quarter, etc.? Defining expectations and learning what metrics will be used to measure your success will help you set your personal objectives for your new role.
7. How and when will my performance be reviewed?
If this is not something you covered during the interview phase, it is important to gather this information early on. Ask about the organization’s performance management processes and understand what you will be reviewed on. How often will you meet with your manager to discuss your performance, goals, obstacles, etc.? How are goals set, tracked, and measured? How often is performance feedback given?
Asking these questions will help you as you progress in your role to gauge your success and understand how the organization will support you in identifying areas for improvement, and developing your skills and knowledge.
8. Where is the washroom?
This should probably be covered during your tour of the building, but this is vital information to know!
Being curious and asking questions is a great way to demonstrate to your employer that you are committed to your role and want to perform well. Familiarizing yourself with the organization and your team will help you get off to a smooth start by ensuring any gaps in understanding or communication are filled. Learning how things work and what success looks like in your position will give you a head start on building a great career with your new organization.