Questions to ask for the benefits

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Questions to ask for the benefits

Postby Ralf K. » Tue Oct 30, 2018 1:49 am

Hi all,

I always wondered what are questions that a candidate can ask in interview to fully understand the benefits?

I typically ask:
1. Salary: Fixed base salary
2. Bonus: Percentage, Variable or not? Depending on what?
3. Time tracking yes or no / overtime?
4. Pensions- / Retirement Fund Scheme
5. Insurance (Accident or illness)

These are the standard ones I guess. But I am wondering if I would be allowed to ask these:
1. travel economic or business class
2. do I get a cell phone with unlimited data plan
3. what type of notebook
4. how often can I do homeoffice
5. how often can I go to conferences
6. what are the career development opportunities
7. can I take off for sick kids at home
8. can I have a creditcard and expense food while traveling/if yes how much

Unfortunately I had bad surprises in previous jobs where every booking or expense sheet was criticized. Or some friend were not allowed to use their cellphone while travelling.

I don’t want to be seen as greedy or only interested in the benefits but it helps to understand it beforehand or compare offers.

What do you ask?

Ralf K.
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Re: Questions to ask for the benefits

Postby PG » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:14 am

Please note that I am Writing my answer from a European perspective that I know may be different as compared to the US.

At least some of the basics should be covered in the offer that is given to you ie base salary, bonus, overtime.

For US positions I would expect that some information about Insurance, retirement and rules for time off (including vacation, sick leave, sick Children etc) would also be included since they are different between different companies and positions and in contrast to many european countries not regulated to the same extend by law or social security.

Asking about development opportunities I see as standard and this is frequently asked during one of the interviews already before an offer is on the table. This can include Conferences etc. If you want to ask about going to conferences you can aks the question as "how much travel would be expected from a person in this position?". IF the answer doesnt mention Conferences or other similar events you can follow-up with a specific question.

Economy or business class travel and your other travel related questions are related to the question about the amount of travelling. If you wont be travelling much they are not very important and I would consider skipping them. If you will travel a lot they become more important but that also makes questions about travel policy natural.

Working from home isnt a strange question either and I would ask it during an interview when you are discussing how it is to work for the Company that you are interviewing with rather than as a part of a discussion around benefits. It can be asked to for example a more junior person that you are meeting with.
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Re: Questions to ask for the benefits

Postby D.X. » Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:58 am

Hi Ralf,

I agree with PG with the note that some of these questions can appear "petty" if you don't frame them up well. I've given my comment for each point and like PG - a European perspective:

1. travel economic or business class

I would not ask this in an interview. You are in Europe, most companies per their travel policy has all within Europe or under either 4 or 6 hours of travel as economy travel. Seriously, with they type of planes they use for short-hauls, the business seat is the same as the economy seat, other than you get your beverage served in a real glass than a plastic cup! That being said, all company's I have worked for has their intercontinental (long-haul flights) as business - if it was other wise watch how much people would not want to travel for business anymore..that it would actually impact business. So not even worth asking. At the worse one company had Easy Jet as a preferred vendor - they pay for the baggage too but big deal who cares, I don't need to rack up miles with Star Alliance or Star One or what ever - hate people who travel just for that. You can be perceived as petty don't bother asking that.

2. do I get a cell phone with unlimited data plan

Again a petty question - these days we all get company cellphones with unlimited data in the country you operate from. Then when you cross a boarder you'll have limited data. Get into the practice of using Wifi. Aiport Wifi, hotel wifi, all free these days. Its what I do, both for my personal phone and company phone. The data-package on my personal phone is ALWAYS better than my company phones, so i don't need a company phone for my personal phonecalls and internet. I keep personal and company life separate. You CAN make phone calls home wiht the company phone when traveling, no one will challenge you really and you can do TCs using the mobile phone when traveling, that's the cost of doing business. So the cell phone question is a moot point - keep your own personal, get use to WIFI. I treat my company phone as I would my personal phone. The reality is I do use my company data-package alot when I travel, maily for emails - so what..cost of doing business. No body questions. What I won't do is do a Skype from that unless its a urgetn and priority work situation where there is no Wifi. I knew an idiot who used his company phone to Skype his family with data-package on from another continent, got himself a nice 10,000 CHF bill to the department. There was a nice meeting with HR as you can imagine - the company paid, but that HR meeting was not nice..he came back shaking. Be smart.

3. what type of notebook

Again another petty question. So what? - you get a computer with email and MS Office and other software you need (i.e. skype for business etc.) - asking if its apple or PC or ipad..who cares. For the record I have iPhone, iPad, and Computer..i never ever use my iPAd since day one - i never charged it after IT gave it to me, i think the battery is so dead i probably needs technical intervention to get it running again. My volume of emails so high and I do travel alot so I use my phone..but in my last company, i didn't really travel so I left my phone in the office in a was battery dead most of the time (I NEVER take my cell phone to meetings as a best practice) - so that was a waste. As a matter of work life balance I don't ever check my email after i shut off for the day. Or on the weekends.

4. how often can I do homeoffice

Ok a relavant question here in Europe - an now becoming an HR benefit. HR should tell you this, but if you do ask frame it up well, i.e. working from home 1 day a week is meaninful to me because of ABC. Most company's today in my area and my current employer offer 1 day work from home per week. I am a remote employee so work from home when not at a mandatory F2F at HQ (which is in a different country) or other mandatory Off-site F2F meeting.

5. how often can I go to conferences

This is either part of the job or part of development - you can frame it up as how many congresses does teh company par-take in annually - how many you are expected to attend. If congress activities are part of you job you can ask hwo many congresses you would be responsible for in terms of an activity or what ever.

6. what are the career development opportunities -

This one, becareful, I would frame it up with stating your development interest then ask what does development programs look like to help you acheive that goal. This is a conversation more for your hirig manager, HR will be useless here other than stating thier "generic yet highly tailorable talent development program and portal aimed and help you acheive your development goals" followed by the useless HR cowardly statment of "you are the owner of your own development" So up to you have you frame it.

7. can I take off for sick kids at home

This one is interesting, I would ask that to HR.... or not. Frame it up with a note that you do have kids and you can ask how is that managed. In GENERAL and i mean in GENERAL - here where I am, a sick child is considered as though you are sick. Some companys have a number of sick days offically ..but to be honest culturally and everyday life working style...all that's really done is an email stating your child is sick to your boss and maybe team assistent, and that you're off for the day...and no further it goes. Just make sure not to abuse it. Everybody is in the same boat, most turn the the head the other direction including the boss. Again this is Europe, not the US.

8. can I have a creditcard and expense food while traveling/if yes how much

Credit card yes, but honestly most company's have this, you'll get it sually after your probation. The question of food...well...can be petty. You'll get something - some company's will have different policies on this, some good, some bad, but most will reimburse some way for lunch and dinner out withing some price. I go off on on on this, sometimes when I'm out, because I have a child at home, I'll indulge a bit - have abit more expensive dinner and a couple glasses of wine. Personally, I don't want the company to mind my business, I can afford it so I wont' ask for reimbursement at certain times. I rather avoid questions or commentaries. Or some cases I ask for separate bills for my drinks vs.' get around it some how. Seriously, I can afford my own meals - i deem that private many times.

Hope this level of granularity helps you - key point, some can be petty - and may not serve you well in the interview process.

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Re: Questions to ask for the benefits

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:35 am

I really like DX's response here and agree with the "don't ask petty questions" sentiment. You want to win the job offer, and anything you do to distract you from that mission (such as asking about whether you get an expense account while traveling) can make you look a bit of a fool. Once you have a job offer in hand, you can discreetly inquire about some of these topics . . .

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
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