First Day at a New Job? Here Are the 3 Most Important Questions to Ask

First Day at a New Job? Here Are the 3 Most Important Questions to Ask was originally published on Idealist Careers.

When it’s our first day at a new job, we tend to have all the questions. And If you know me or you’re familiar with my career advice (or if I’ve ever been your direct report!), you may know that I’m a huge proponent of questions. 

But on day one of a new job, it’s important to at least attempt to fight the urge to do all the talking. In fact, I recommend aiming for an 80/20 split: listening 80% of the time and asking 20% of the time. And for the 20% that will be dedicated to asking questions, there are three magical queries that I recommend you raise up on your first day.

1. What are my objectives for my first week on the job?

Not only will this question help to inform your pace and priorities during your first week, it also offers your supervisor an opportunity to revisit—and perhaps revise—some of the tasks, goals, and responsibilities they have on their list for you.

If your new employer has a strong onboarding process, some form of this question is likely to be covered in initial orientation and conversations. But honing in on what a successful first week looks like for you (in the eyes of your supervisor) can offer more specificity than quarterly goals, or first-100-day goals. And if you’re left to map out your first work week without much support, any insight you gather from asking this question will directly inform any meetings scheduled, research conducted, or deliverables produced. 

2. Can we schedule some time to talk about communication preferences and styles?

Communication—how you like others to communicate with you, organization-wide communication standards and tools, as well as your own personal communication style—is a critical and often overlooked onboarding topic. 

Ask your new manager to schedule some meeting time to specifically discuss all things communication. Here are a few points you can cover in that meeting:

  • What are the org-wide tools used to communicate items of high, medium, and low priority? For example, when to use Slack vs. email vs. a phone call or meeting. 
  • Are there any important (perhaps even unspoken) org-wide communications practices that you should know about? For example, reply-all in an email is almost never OK (or maybe it’s always OK), staff members are not expected to keep work email apps on personal phones, etc.
  • Would your manager like to schedule a regular check-in meeting? Would you?

This meeting is also a great opportunity to share important details regarding your overall work style and how you like to give and receive feedback. 

3. When is a good time for me to step away for lunch?

Don’t underestimate this one! Trying to get through a full day at a brand new job without taking a minute to eat (or breathe) is a terrible idea. Put this one in the self-care column; fueling your body and your brain is critical to doing good work. 

Keeping yourself balanced and energized will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the work you do and the impression you make at your brand new job.


Of course, there are plenty more questions that will be on your mind when kicking off a new career. But starting with these three will help you on your path to an informative and impactful onboarding process, ensuring you start your new adventure with your best foot forward!