Remember? It may be a while ago, or maybe not, but think about the last time you were a newcomer somewhere. You probably had two or three interviews, negotiated your salary, signed your contract and got ready to shine. Before starting that new job, you probably had some questions you forgot to ask (but should have).

#1 – Ask if you can attend a meeting before your first working day

It is a good plan to meet your new colleagues before you start work. Why not ask if you can sit in on a meeting? You get to know your colleagues and find out what is going on. You can experience the dynamics of your new company and get a lot of inside information on the organisation and its customers. This is the perfect soft landing, and you know what you’re talking about from the start. Perfect!

A true story:
Casual Friday at a large international bank: Hans, the new colleague, comes in wearing cut-off denim shorts. One of the board members (also known as the Drill Sergeant because of his military background and extremely good mood) calls Hans into his office and lets rip about his clothing choice. Hans feels terrible. Nobody told him about the Casual Friday dress code. His interpretation obviously did not match the company standards. In the two months following, two more incidents with the Drill Sergeant occur, and Hans decides to pack in his job.

# 2 What are the political relations?

Corporate organisations can be marred by political intrigue. This can also apply to your new job. Ask about the political relations and hierarchy with the company. Don’t just ask your manager, also ask the members of your team. Are there any cliques? Who are friends? Enemies? Things you should or shouldn’t do? How about grumpy colleagues with a horrible morning temper? And how do the various departments work together? That is all good to know. The most important thing to remember is to be yourself.
Tip: If you need to navigate through a real corporate minefield, keep the secretaries on your side…

# 3 – How do people communicate with each other?

Find out what the style of communication is in the company. Does your new manager like it if you call him if you have a question? Or is it better to send an e-mail or WhatsApp message? In start-ups and companies with a lot of generation Y or Z staff members, communication often takes place using WhatsApp or new services such as Slack.

# 4 – How flexible is flexible?

Almost every job now offers opportunities to work from home. But it is good to know how much flexibility the company expects from you. Does everyone start early or are they slow starters? Are you expected to stay at the office three times a week for a pizza session? And what about the holidays? Or when your child falls ill and you are forced to work from home?

These are only a few of the questions you probably forgot to ask before you started. Write them down and ask them when you next get a new job. Better yet: send them to us, so we can pass them on to your new colleagues.

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