“Do you have any questions for me?”
This is likely one of the last questions you will hear during an interview for your new potential job, and the answer to this should always be “Yes.” As a recent graduate ready to take on the workforce, be sure to prepare a list of questions beforehand to show the interviewer that you are engaged and interested in learning more about the company beyond the questions they asked you.
While it is important to always do your research about the company before your interview, there are certain things that can’t be answered online. Therefore, it can be beneficial to take advantage of this opportunity to help you get a better understanding of the company.
How has your organization changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 has changed most aspects of everyday life, one of the most notable being how the workplace is now operating. With little time and preparation, many workplaces went from being on-site offices to operating completely remotely. Additionally, there have been countless safety measures and procedures put in place for organizations that have started filtering back into offices and for essential workers that continued to be on-site during the pandemic.
Depending on the industry, some organizations were able to grow and find new markets while others had to develop completely new strategies to keep afloat. No matter the industry you are looking for work in, it is important to know how the company handled this abrupt change to give you a better understanding of how the organization faces adversity and challenging situations.
Where do you see the company in five years?
Perhaps during your interview, the interviewer asked you, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” This question can also be just as beneficial as a candidate to ask the interviewer because it allows the hiring manager to articulate the areas that they see the company growing. Additionally this can be a good indicator to determine how stable they are as an organization while giving you a larger picture of their goals.
Asking this question shows that you care about the future of the company and see this as a long-term position. You can also use this opportunity to discuss the potential for upward mobility to help you understand the career paths you might be able to take at the company in the future.
What is the culture like at the organization?
This is an important question because it explains how the company operates on a day-to-day basis while also helping you understand their values and how you will fit in with potential coworkers. Some things to look for when discussing company culture are work-life balance, team building, mentorship, and overall environment.
For your first job out of college, it is important to get a grasp on the internal culture because what you are looking for in a company now might shift as time progresses and all workplaces differ in how they operate. Due to the pandemic, certain aspects that shape company culture might have changed such as catered Friday lunches or company gatherings on the weekends, so you can further ask how they are maintaining their culture in a COVID-19 world.
What is the training like for this position?
When you start your new job, there will certainly be a learning curve—especially as a recent college graduate. Not only are you adapting to life outside of college, but you will be learning the new duties required to perform your job as you enter the workforce. This is why the training period at your company is crucial to understand.
You will want to make sure that you aren’t thrown to the wolves, so to speak, upon starting so that you can confidently adjust to your new position. Also, make sure to ask about extended training opportunities as well so you know that you will be supported months into taking a new position as duties may change or evolve.
What are the next steps in the hiring process?
When you ask this question, you are taking initiative by showing that you want the job and are enthusiastic about progressing in the interview process. The hiring manager may tell you that there are additional interviews to come or that the tentative start date is a month or two in the future so that you can be better prepared. This question also helps you make decisions about other jobs that you might be interviewing for as you will have a better understanding of the onboarding timeline.
Can you tell me a little more about the benefits package?
In certain situations, it is better to wait until after an offer has been made to ask about benefits and salary, as you don’t want to seem like you are already assuming the position. However, if benefits and salary come up during the interview, it is appropriate to try to get a few more details about the package offered.
Here are a few benefits to look for in a potential job:
- Health Insurance- If it is not feasible to stay covered on your parents’ health insurance after graduation, you will want to look into the health insurance options available at the company. You can ask about the waiting period as well so that you can account for any lapse in coverage you may have before starting a new position.
- Life insurance- Some companies offer some form of employer-sponsored life insurance coverage. However, it is important to research different private life insurance options as a recent college graduate, especially if you have a private student loan that you had a co-signer on. This is because in the unlikely event that you were to pass away before the loan was paid off, your co-signer is responsible for paying back this amount and additional life insurance would cover the costs.
- Retirement Options- After graduating from college, planning for retirement may not initially be at the top of your to-do list. However, when you start preparing for retirement earlier than later, you are setting yourself up for long-term financial success. You can ask about whether or not the organization has a company match to your retirement plan because taking advantage of this benefit when you first start out will provide a sense of security as you advance in your career.
Even though it is difficult to think about, life insurance is a safeguard to look into when you are younger and healthier, considering the fact that the cost of term life insurance is much less expensive when you secure a policy at a younger age. If you plan on purchasing an asset or having a family in the near future, you will be thankful that you have this coverage and that the policy is locked in at a lower rate.
After graduating from college, take some time to celebrate all of your accomplishments leading up to this point. Having the tools to nail the interview and secure a position after graduation opens up the next chapter of your life. Remember to be prepared for your interview and have some questions ready to ensure that you are the top candidate and are making the right career move toward your first job.