6 Key Questions to Ask Your First Week on the Job

Julie Shenkman
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When you look back on your first weeks at a new job, do you want to remember yourself as a nervous wreck or a star hire who impressed everyone with your proficiency? Navigate the stress of a career transition by finding out what it takes to do well in your new job. Ask these six questions during your first week to set productive goals and create your own path to success.

1. What Are Your Top Priorities?

Don't try to woo the manager by doing everything. Instead, find out what your boss cares about to gain a better understanding of how your role fits in. This simple gesture sets you apart as a competent professional while providing immediate goals for you to focus on as you settle into a new job.

2. What Qualities Are Valued Here?

Getting acclimated to the culture is a key part of feeling empowered in a new job. Ask your boss what traits and behaviors are encouraged, so you can build good relationships with co-workers. Does the company value cross-team collaboration, attentive customer service or round-the-clock availability? Adapting the right behavior into your work style can help you make a positive impression.

3. What Type of People Succeed in This Job?

It's never too early to start thinking about long-term career development. Ask for examples of workers who thrived in similar roles to find out how they maximized their career growth. Even better, try to build relationships with these individuals. When you're ready to move up, it pays to have influential professionals in your corner.

4. Who Should I Meet My First Week?

Too often, new employees let themselves get lost in the crowd. Then they get passed over for promotion and start feeling overlooked by upper management. Use your first week in a new job to form connections with colleagues who can offer advice, mentoring and career support. You can't climb the ladder if no one knows who you are.

5. Can You Describe the Performance-Evaluation Process?

Learn how the company measures performance, so you know what's expected of you. Everything from special projects to raises can come down to employee evaluations. The company's success model should influence how you concentrate your efforts in a new job. For example, agree on a check-in schedule with your boss to stay on task. It's not always the most meticulous employees who move up, but the ones who use their time efficiently.

6. How Do I Define Personal Success?

Take time to map out your personal model of success. On one hand, you have to please your boss. On the other, it's equally important to find work that's challenging and meaningful to you. Share your interests with your manager, and think about how your strengths align with company goals. If you actively seek out new responsibilities, you can show your boss you're ready to help with more complex projects.

Don't expect your employer to be proactive about career development. Your professional growth is your responsibility, and it's up to you to embrace opportunity that can propel your career forward. Take the initiative to ask questions, learn as much as you can and build relationships at work from day one. Experienced professionals, what steps did you take to start off well in a new job?


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @David A. thanks for your comment. It is possible that these were asked - at least a few of them. But you know that interviewing can be stressful and many candidates get into an interview and forget everything. So these are just quick reminders - in case you hadn't already asked or even in case you forgot the responses that you received previously. Are they any other questions that you think should be asked in your first week on a new job?

  • David A.
    David A.

    I would think that these are six questions you should have asked before agreeing to the job in the first place.

  • Dawn Kalber
    Dawn Kalber

    Driving Performance and Orchestrating Excellence

  • Linda Coran
    Linda Coran

    More so that star hire who impressing and finessing. So confident.

  • Deborah C.
    Deborah C.

    Practical, doable, and common sense - which is too often not so common! :-)
    Thank you

  • Henry Colby
    Henry Colby

    That is informative

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