There’s more to compensation than just salary. Here’s how to evaluate potential employers’ benefits packages during the interview process.
Maybe you’ve just graduated college and are accepting your first full-time offer. Perhaps you’re transitioning from part-time to full-time. Or maybe you’re just switching jobs. No matter what the transition into a new role looks like, it’s important to understand what benefits will be available to you through your new employer.
Learn how to ask about benefits in an interview, plus which benefits questions to ask so you can get the answers you need to decide whether the job offer is the right move for your career.
How to Ask About Benefits in an Interview
Asking about benefits during the interview process can be tricky — it’s important to have a solid understanding of the benefits package you’ll be receiving so you know whether the position is right for you, but you don’t want to risk seeming too eager by asking too soon.
A good rule of thumb is to wait to ask questions about benefits until you know you’re a serious candidate for the position, which is usually during the second or third round of interviews. Likewise, if the potential employer introduces the topic of benefits, that’s a good indication that it’s appropriate to ask clarifying questions to get more information on the company’s benefits package.
If you’re eager to get additional information, but you’re not sure if it’s appropriate to ask questions about benefits, try asking general questions that may provide the insight you’re looking for. For example, asking, “How would you describe the company’s culture?” could produce insights about schedule flexibility, paid time off (PTO) or incentive packages.
Benefit Questions: 10 Things to Ask Potential Employers
1. How Much Sick Time, Vacation Time and Holidays Are Provided?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to sick time, holidays or paid time off (PTO). Make sure to inquire about the differences, as well as how much total time is allotted. Other questions to ask: Are sick days included in PTO? Are sick days included under short-term disability? Does this office take federal holidays off? What about personal days?
2. When Does PTO Begin to Accrue and at What Rate?
Now that you know how much PTO you have, it’s important to know how it is delivered. Some companies give you all the PTO at the start of a new fiscal year. Others have you accrue the days by the month. Make sure you know the difference so that you can plan your time off accordingly.
3. What Insurance Coverages Do You Offer?
If the employer has 50 or more employees, they are required to offer health care plans, but more than 75% of companies offer more than what is just required by law. Depending on the company, these benefits may include dental insurance, vision care and life insurance. Make sure to ask what exactly is offered and who can be covered under your plan.
4. Can I Review a Summary of the Health Insurance Plan Options?
There’s high-deductible, low-deductible and everything in between. Make sure the employer explains the different health insurance plans to you, like a menu, so you can choose what suits your lifestyle the best.
5. How Does the Employee Pay for the Premium?
In most cases, both the employer and employee contribute to cover your health plan’s premium. For example, if the employer offers a health insurance policy, employees generally pay a portion of the premium each paycheck. With a reimbursement benefit, employees purchase their own insurance and are reimbursed by the employer on their paycheck.
6. Is There a Specific Enrollment Period for These Benefits?
It’s important to understand the timing of your new benefits. A company may have a specific enrollment period or need criteria to determine when you are eligible. Some plans have a 30-day or 90-day waiting period. At the time of hire, ask clarifying questions to ensure that you do not need additional or interim coverage.
7. What Type of Retirement Plan Is Offered? How Much Does the Company Contribute?
When it comes to saving for retirement, many companies offer a 401(k) match as an incentive for their employees. Ask how much the company match is and at what percentage. For example, at 4% of your monthly paycheck, the company might match 100%. However, at 5% of your monthly paycheck, they may only match 50%. Ask when that match becomes vested. If you leave the company before you’re fully vested, the company may withhold the match.
8. Are There Wellness Discounts or Service Reimbursements?
Today, more companies are understanding the importance of wellness in the workplace as it relates to employee productivity. Because of that, they’re offering discounts for health club memberships, reimbursements for exercise equipment or promotions through local health studios. Inquire about those benefits before changing your gym or fitness studio.
9. Are There Educational and Training Benefits?
Tuition reimbursement is a popular voluntary benefit that allows employees to pursue continuing education if it’s applicable to their career goals. The company may pay up to 90% of the cost of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in any field as well as the same percentage of the cost for earning a master’s degree related to the employee’s field. Job-related certifications may also be covered by the employer. Beware of some caveats and know the process. For instance, you may need department approval or may be required to stay with the company for a certain amount of time after earning your degree.
10. What Happens to My Benefits If I Leave the Company?
If your company uses a reimbursement plan for your benefits, you’re likely able to continue using those benefits if you find another job down the road. However, if it’s an employer-sponsored benefit plan, your benefits may lapse as soon as you walk out the door. Make sure you know so that you can plan ahead.
We’re Here to Help
Still have questions? Contact your local Farm Bureau agent, who would be happy to meet with you and help you walk into your first day with confidence.