5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Committing To A New Job — Even If You Really Want It

Success requires you and the job to match each other well.

woman asking herself questions while interviewing Weekend Images Inc | Canva  

How will you handle the seductive experience of being chosen for a new job and offered a good salary? The money seems great, but that’s just one aspect to consider. Beware of the temptation to quickly accept the offer if you have a pressing need for a job. Especially if you’ve been searching longer than you’d wish.

By the same token, there are reasons to make practical and smart compromises if you’re curious about trying something new or working primarily for a paycheck. You may even imagine ways you could influence for the better how the work is done once you establish credibility, respect, and effective relationships with the people in charge. Frankly, this may be idealistic and beyond reality, especially in large organizations, as I learned at the State Department and as a management consultant to several organizations.


Whatever your situation and views now, though, the focus of this article is designed to help you identify five main questions that will lead you to an effective work choice. They will contribute to your making a good match and satisfying use of your most important non-renewable resource – your time - for the foreseeable future.

Adapt, add to, or ignore questions irrelevant to you. They all relate to how to make good matches for win-win outcomes. After all, it does not serve the organization or group's interests if your participation is not a good fit for theirs as well.

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Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before committing to a new job.

1. How comfortable is their culture for you?

What do you know about the culture of the organization or group, including its implicit and explicit values? How closely do they connect with your own? The more specific you can be, the better. So, list 5 of your top values to see how they relate to the organization’s or group’s.

If you don’t yet have a clear sense of the culture from what you gleaned during the application and interviewing process, explore its publications and do research online. In addition, reach out to individuals who have some experience with it. Consider this an investment in your pre-employment interview.

One practical aspect related to the culture’s values is the flexibility of current and planned policies about locations and hours of work for different levels of work. Since you may be entering at a time when such matters are in post-pandemic flux, clarity may not be immediate. Yet, see if you can find out as much as possible, especially how it relates to your needs and preferences. If not close enough, what could be negotiated?

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2. Who has the power and control, and how is it shared?

Get a sense of how the hierarchy, or lack of one, works as well as how it relates to the work you’d be doing. Where is the power held in relation to your job?

Since there is a range for expressions of power, the following categories may help you focus on your sources as well as those in the part of the organization or group where you’d work: Power of position or role, source of rewards, expertise, referent or inspirational, coercive or punishing.

See if you can approximate how much discretion you’d have in your work. For example, ask operational and hypothetical questions related to starting and implementing projects, or how disagreements or collaborations are handled.

3. How well would you connect with colleagues and people you’d assist?

What is your impression of the people you’ve met so far? They could include everyone from interviewers and intake organizers to anyone who assists you in the process. How thoughtful, interesting, and inviting have people been?


What kind of vibes do you sense? What do you notice about people’s sense of humor and creativity, about how relaxed, empathic, and open they are?

Perhaps take some minimal risks in appropriate situations by asking questions such as:

What’s the best aspect of working here?

What would you modify, if anything?

What main advice would you give me to work well with (name of significant person)?

Of course, you can also check out backgrounds on LinkedIn and other sources to see what people accentuate and report about themselves. You may even come across contacts you already know for conversations about what’s under the surface of the organization. As possible, find out why your predecessor left.


Regarding people who you’d be serving or assisting, continue with some online research using your intuition to gather, synthesize, and interpret information and impressions. Likely, you already know a lot about the topic if you did some due diligence about the work initially or have previous, related contacts.

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4. What are the opportunities for learning, development, benefits, and promotions?

As part of your pre-employment interview, ask about training on and independent of the job as well as other employment benefits. Keep in mind your learning preferences, and how you tend to absorb and flourish.

Following are some ideas for your inquiry:


Is planning for learning opportunities collaborative, can you design your approach, or must you follow a particular format and timing? How is time provided for the training on and off the job?

Who pays for external education and training?

For what other initial employment benefits do you qualify? Subsequent ones?

Does your job title and experience have legs related to a future you’d want? Could you negotiate a modification of your labels and job description to reflect actual and expected responsibilities?

How are lateral and linear promotions determined? What are the processes, and who tends to hold the cards?


5. What’s the match with the job, and how do you define your purpose in work and the meaning you get from it?

Since you’re in transition again, you will benefit from refining what you want and why. Have some exploratory conversations with trusted, creative people. Then, draft a brief description based on what you clarified.

Likely reflecting the values you described in question (1), they could move from intrinsic — the positive difference your work makes in other’s lives— to instrumental or some combinations. An example of the latter could be: To have job security, enough salary to support your home situation, and flexible timing of work hours for the foreseeable future.

Your imagination also provides important preparatory information.

Finally, test the appeal of the work and situation by imagining how you’d feel coming to and/or doing the work. What are your emotions as you visualize doing the work, collaborating with a particular person, or just walking in the door?


As you know, no work will be a perfect fit, especially during the adjustment period at the start. That’s because you and it are dynamic. Though sometimes frustrating, such shifts are gifts of opportunities for refreshment and often worthwhile challenges. The process will give you the impetus to influence situations and gracefully adjust expectations to realities.

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Ruth Schimel Ph.D. is a career and life management consultant and author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon. She guides clients in accessing their strengths and making viable visions for current and future work and life situations. Benefit from the first chapter of her seventh book Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future available without charge.