Questions to Ask When Starting a New Job

Young business colleagues looking at documents and asking questions in a meeting.
••• Corey Jenkins / Getty Images

The first day in the office is a big day. When you’re starting a new job, it’s always a good idea not to expect that this workplace will be the same as your last. Each company has its own way of doing things and its own style. The sooner you learn how to operate in your new work environment, the faster you’ll be an asset.

 New employees always do well when they take the initiative to learn. There are some questions that it’s important to get answered, so you can start the new job on the right foot.

 Best Questions to Ask When Starting a New Job

While many of these questions might be answered in a new employee orientation, some of them may not. Take note of the questions not covered in training. If they aren’t answered during your first few days on the job, approach your peers and immediate supervisor, so you’re as informed as possible. Introduce yourself to as many people as possible, so you’ll have access to advice and support as you start your tenure with your new employer.

What Are the Company’s Expectations of Your Role?

When applying and interviewing for the job, you likely read and reread the job description. However, your full responsibilities and the company’s expectations are not necessarily limited to what is listed in the job posting. Here are a few specific questions to consider that will help you get the full picture of your new role.

  • Is any part of the original job description unclear, ambiguous, or outdated? If so, ask for clarification.
  • How long should it take for you to become autonomous (no longer intraining) at your position?
  • When and how will the organization review your performance?
  • What process does your organization follow for performance reviews?
  • What does success look like in your new role and your department?
  • How does the leadership handle failures to meet expectations?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll understand the performance management process. You can then factor this information into how you set your professional goals for the year ahead.

 What Are the Company’s Policies and Procedures?

 It is important that you “speak the same language” as the company when it comes to policies and procedures. For example, there is likely a policy in place for submitting assignments. If you misunderstand (or never knew in the first place) how to submit completed work, your leaders and coworkers might assume that you never did the work.

From getting the job done to taking time off to business hours, all of these issues relate to the company’s policies and procedures.

Settling in means becoming familiar with the structure and fitting in.

Here are a few questions to further pin down company policies and procedures:

  • Is there an employee handbook?
  • How are you expected to handle conflict between yourself and another employee?
  • What is the process for reporting abuse, harassment, and any other unethical behavior?

 Taking the time to understand your organization’s history and how your new team operates is a great way to earn the respect of your coworkers.

A learning and patient approach to your involvement at your new office will help establish your own credibility and build trust with your new teammates.

 Eventually, you'll also want to assess which processes are currently working and which processes need improvement. Get to know the challenges that the organization is currently facing and what is planned for the future.

 What Is the Culture or “Vibe” of the Office?

You may have discussed some aspects of your new organization’s culture before accepting your new role, but it is important to understand what that culture looks like on a daily basis.

To better understand the “personality” of the company, here are a few questions to ask:

  • When are you expected to be “clockedin” at the office and when are you permitted to work at home?
  • What communication channels are you authorized to use to communicate remotely/digitally with other employees?
  • Are there any workplace clubs or sports teams you can get involved in to meet new people?
  • How are employees held accountable for commitments and goals?
  • What is acceptable behavior at work and what is not?
  • How close are supervisors permitted to be with their employees?
  • What is the pace of the workday?
  • Does the company prefer direct candor or careful diplomacy during collaborative moments?

How to Make the Best Impression

In addition to having questions ready to ask, it’s important to take the time to prepare to start your new job. Review these 20 tips for starting a new job, so you’re on the path to success with your new employer.

The Bottom Line

Be Curious from Day One: Demonstrating curiosity by asking questions is an excellent way to show your engagement, display that you are committed to learning, and let managers know you want to do well in your new role. It also keeps you from appearing aloof, timid, or judgmental on your first day of work.

Take Relationship Building Seriously: Additionally, asking questions is a great way to get to know your new colleagues and set the foundation for strong, long-lasting relationships at work. Filling in your knowledge gaps by asking great questions will give you a head start on a rewarding career at the new company.