Friday Five – Things you don’t realise you need to know about a new job

My first week at my new job has been and gone, and it was mostly alright. I mean there was this, of course:

…and that did go on for a couple of days, but I am not really complaining. It’s all good.

On my first day, I was pondering some of the things that could really make a difference to your experience at an (office) job, but things you don’t get to know about until you start. Here’s five of them!

  1. Lunch. It’s likely to be an hour, that much you’ll already know. But when do you take it – is there a choice? Do you have to cover other people? Is there anything to do around the office? Can you eat at your desk? Can you use the computers for non-work things? All these need to be answered before you start packing your sandwiches.
  2. Toilets. I’m sure I’m not the only person who judges a place on it’s toilets. It can make or break a restaurant experience for me. So why should there be any difference in an office? If you’re lucky, you get a tour of your workplace before you begin. You may even be introduced to some of the people (always thought this unnecessary if you don’t even know you’re getting the job yet), but the ladies? That’s important too.
  3. Phones. From the simplest things, such as what kind of ring the phones in the office have, to the more complex issues such as whether people answer each others phones, and what the etiquette is for taking messages.
  4. Chairs. What is your chair going to be like? It’s kinda tricky to ask for a new chair in your first week, so is it going to hurt your back and more importantly, does it squeak? (Mine does.)
  5. Stationery. What’s the process in getting some? Are you allowed to take what you want or does someone hold the key to the all-important cupboard? I was allowed a good proper raid on the stationery cupboard on my first day, it was like all my Christmasses had come at once.

I’m pondering whether any of these topics would be appropriate to ask during an interview. At the end, you are usually asked if you have any questions. Could I ask about the stationery process then, rather than holidays and/or parking? Then we could avoid this situation:

5 thoughts on “Friday Five – Things you don’t realise you need to know about a new job

  1. As a “boss” who sometimes needs to show new starters around, this has opened my eyes a bit. I think I normally share the lunch room and toilets but I never really thought about the phones and chair.

    I will be interviewing people for two or three jobs in the next few weeks too. Should I mention post-it-notes?! Could be an interesting trick question: “what sort of stationary do you think you will need?” :-). do database administrators even needs pens?

  2. I have had a policy of trying to take the person for a cup of coffee off site as a final interview step before hiring. And then I try and steer the conversation around to stuff that I know they want to ask (or rather I would want to ask) so they can comfortably do it.

    Somebody not that long ago mentioned to me that they always used to like to read a book at lunch but that had been frowned on at a previous company and wondered what the situation would be like for that (absolutely fine of course). But I did mention that having your lunch at your desk will often cause your lunch break to be interrupted because so many people work so many different hours. The earliest starters start at 6am and the latest starters start at 10am so people all have lunch at different times so it gets a bit confusing, but that also people are quite understanding usually. But there is a dedicated break room you can go to so you don’t have to go out onto the street to eat your lunch. All of this information is great for the person coming in to help them decide, but their reaction to what it is like to actually work in your office is gold dust for you as an employer too.

    If somebody isn’t going to like the situation then it’s surely better for empolyer and potential employee to know before you sign on the line.

  3. I like the idea of asking about the stationery process at the interview. What would your reaction be if you didn’t like that process? Everything about the job is fine but I don’t like the stationery process so I don’t want the job?

    I think you are right though that a lot of the things that are taken for granted are important and can be the deciding factor on whether or not you end up taking a job or staying there long if you do.

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