Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Job Offer

Below are some questions to ask before accepting a job. I truly wish I had asked some of these in particular before I started my last job.

  1. Will I receive any Medical insurance benefits?
    1. If so, when does eligibility begin?
      1. True horror story: At my last job benefits didn’t start for 3 months. Thus, I had to pay COBRA for three months. Three months of COBRA was well over $6000 and swallowed up the difference between the salary I was initially offered and the salary I had negotiated.
    2. If so, is anyone covered besides me (spouse, dependents)?
      1. True horror story: At my last job no one was covered but me. Not a family-friendly policy, and I had never conceived of such a thing before I started working there.
    3. How much will it cost to cover everyone?
      1. You can ask them for the health benefits information*–premiums, copay, deductible, what’s covered, name of insurance company–before you accept the job. You can do some estimates on how much you’ll have to pay, to ensure you can afford to work there.
  2. Will I receive any vision benefits?
    1. If so, when does eligibility begin?
    2. If so, is anyone covered besides me (spouse, dependents)?
    3. How much will it cost to cover everyone?
  3. Will I receive any dental benefits?
    1. If so, when does eligibility begin?
    2. If so, is anyone covered besides me (spouse, dependents)
    3. How much will it cost to cover everyone?
  4. If spouse and dependents are not covered for medical, vision, or dental, but I am, can I pay to have them covered?
    1. If so, what is the cost?
      1. You should avoid this if possible, since it is likely to be damned expensive. But if you have no choice, you should at least know what you’re getting into.
  5. Is there a noncompete agreement I will be required to sign?
    1. If so, may I see it?
      1. Make sure that, if you quit or are fired, it’s not so all-inclusive that it prohibits you from getting a job in your field. Ask your prospective employer if you can amend it if it’s too heavy-handed (make the changes you’d like and ask if they will accept them)
  6. How much PTO (including sick time) will I receive?
    1. How is PTO given (accrued, or given as lump amount at beginning of year)?
      1. If accrued, how often is it accrued? Every month, every 6 months?
    2. When am I eligible to start taking PTO?
    3. Does the amount of PTO ever increase, and if so, on what schedule?
  7. What are the company holidays?
  8. What are the core office hours?
  9. What is the dress code?
  10. How long is the work day?
    1. Does that include lunch?
    2. What do people typically do for lunch?
  11. Is there a possibility of working from home?
    1. On an ad-hoc basis, e.g., to wait for a repair person or stay home with a sick child
    2. On a scheduled basis, potentially after a probation period
  12. What is the review process?
  13. Is there a 401k or 403b, and, if so, is there any matching?

Questions to ask yourself

  1. How will I commute to this job?
    1. Drive or take public transportation?
    2. How much will it cost (fare, gas, and tolls)?
    3. How long will it take?
    4. Where will I park?
    5. How much will parking cost?
    6. How long does it take to get from where I’ve parked to walk to the office?
    7. Can I manage this commute?
      1. Drive the drive. In the rain. On a Monday morning. When there is no spring break or summer or other reason for the traffic to be light. Keep it real.

*I always get these things confused, so I am including my personal understanding here in an attempt to be helpful. These are rough, non-professional, non-legally binding definitions that do not take precedence over anything at all.

Premium = the amount you pay out of your paycheck every pay period. This will stay constant throughout the year unless you add or remove a dependent, or possibly unless your salary changes. Unfortunately, the premium is NOT included in the deductible.

Deductible = An amount that you must pay before insurance will pay for anything. For example, if you have a high-deductible plan and your deductible is $6000, you will pay astronomically high prices for everything, such as $235 for a prescription drug, until you have shelled out $6000. After that the drug will be $15 or whatever.  Sadly, putting off medical care because of the deductible is pointless. It won’t go away on its own.

Copay = The amount you pay for prescriptions and medical care. These payments ARE included in your deductible; or rather, they ARE your deductible (that is, they are the only way to pay off the deductible). They will vary depending on whether you have paid off your deductible as in the $235/$15 example above; also, sometimes the costs of drugs changes. The amount also varies depending on whether services are covered and whether doctors or facilities are in-network.


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