On your first day or week at a new job, it’ll be expected that you have a lot of questions. Take advantage of this fresh start to ask key questions that tell you how to properly operate in your new workspace. By gaining insight before you dive into actually working and finding a routine, you’ll set yourself up for early success.
Here are 10 questions you should ask the various people you meet on the first day, and why the answers are important for your career.
Ask a teammate: “What’s the biggest obstacle facing the team today?”
Why?: So that you know what to expect early on and what challenges people will appreciate you assisting with.
Ask a teammate: “What are the processes that are running inefficiently that you haven’t had time to fix, change, and optimize?”
Why?: Everyone loves to complain about the one or two things they have to do that could be done so much better, whether that’s with a new system, paperwork, or program. Use the free time you have early on at a new job to tackle one of these processes and become everyone’s new favorite coworker.
Ask your manager: “How often will I be evaluated on my performance? What is the typical format of an evaluation?”
Why?: So that you know how your boss approaches performance reviews. Some prefer ongoing feedback while others like doing quarterly meetings. You’ll also know when is best to ask for a promotion, raise, or transfer.
Ask a teammate: “How well does the team get along with other departments in the company? Are there any cross-departmental issues I should be aware of?”
Why?: So that you have some insight into the reputation of your team in the context of the entire company. It’s crucial to understand how your teammates interact with other departments so that when cross-functional work comes up, you know how to best approach the various teams you may end up working with and who might be best to talk to.
Ask your manager: “What is the top priority project that I will be working on? Are there other projects that I will work on alongside that top priority?”
Why?: So that you have a clear understanding of the team’s and your own priorities and timelines. It also forces your manager to define your role. People often become unhappy with their job when it’s not clear to themselves or their boss what they should be doing on a daily basis and tasks become haphazard and random.
Ask your manager: “What are the 5 or 10 things you’d like me to accomplish in my first week on the job?”
Why?: So that you know if you’re expected to use the first week to learn and acclimate or throw yourself into the fire headfirst. Ideally, you should always look to make a positive impact on day one and beyond, but it’s always nice to know how fast you have to go.
Ask a teammate: “What tools and technology do you use to automate some of the data entry intensive or repetitive tasks?”
Why?: So that you know which online and offline tools you can utilize to perform at your best on the job. Every job has some truly monotonous tasks that you’ll have to take care of. Knowing the tools your team uses to automate the monotony will make it easier for you to get that work done.
Ask a teammate: “What one thing should I know about [manager] above all else? What makes him/her tick?”
Why?: So that you understand what motivates your manager and drives their work philosophy. This will allow you to adapt the way you approach them to suit their management style. You might want to wait until you’ve formed a friendship with a teammate before directly asking this question, lest you come off as prying.
Ask your manager: “How do you prefer to communicate - email or in person? How often would you like me to give you updates and progress reports?”
Why?: So that you know what the best way to reach your manager is and how often you should talk to them. Knowing this information will allow you to avoid making communication mistakes that could either make you look like you need too much hand holding, aren’t doing enough, or are too quiet, depending on the style of your manager.
Ask your manager: “What types of decisions can I make autonomously, and what would you like to be consulted on for approval ahead of time?”
Why?: So that you know how much you can take into your own hands and when important decisions need to be taken to other stakeholders.