The world is changing, and so are our expectations of the workplace.
The pandemic has changed us for good; now, many factors have changed the way we look at our careers and workplaces.
For some jobseekers, the organisation’s stability has become more critical than ever, while some job seekers question whether they ever want to return to an ordinary 9 to 5 again. These questions have fuelled The Great Resignation globally, where employees take a hard look at what matters to them.
As a potential new employee, it’s vital for you to feel assured that your potential employer is adapting and innovating for the future of work.
This blog aims to give job seekers a helping hand by outlining crucial questions you should be asking your potential employer before you accept the job.
We also provide Xref’s response to these questions so you can get an idea of how a company should respond to these queries.
Ten questions candidates should start asking before accepting a job
Here is a list of ten questions that can help you assess if the hiring organisation is aligned to your personal and career goals, we hope you find this helpful.
- How are you surviving the pandemic? What is sustaining revenue and growth?
- Has your company added value during the pandemic?
- Do you have a plan in place to face another crisis? What is your business resilience plan?
- What are your plans for flexible work?
- What are your plans for the future? What future projects are in the pipeline?
- What does your Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) policy include?
- How does your company recognise individual contribution?
- What does a career look like at your company?
- How does your company support diversity, equality and inclusion?
- What do customers think of your product and service?
1. How are you surviving the pandemic? What is sustaining revenue and growth?
It’s okay to be curious about how a company stayed afloat and is staying afloat, during the pandemic.
It is well-known COVID-19 lockdowns have led to permanent shutdowns of companies around the world. It’s also been very common for companies to downsize and restructure to survive.
If you’ve never considered asking this question, we encourage you to do so. You should know if a future employer has a viable business model. After all, your livelihood may depend on it.
How Xref survived the pandemic
We’re privileged to have a great product. At Xref, we have witnessed substantial growth and increased revenue to the point where we are fully profitable. We did this by focusing on essential services during lockdown periods. We are also ready to support the reopening of non-essential sectors like retail, travel and hospitality.
We have new projects in the works and are looking forward to what the future brings.
2. Has your company added value to other businesses during the pandemic?
The onset of COVID-19 caused wide-scale disruption and hardship that is still ongoing. Governments, companies, communities and individuals have stepped up to help ease the blow. Some companies like grocery stores and logistics businesses became critical service providers. Others donated resources to healthcare providers or pivoted to manufacture essential goods. For example, alcohol distilleries started creating hand sanitiser.
Ask a prospective employer about how they helped add value during this challenging period. Their answers will provide you with a lot of helpful information. Keep in mind, adding value can come in many ways.
Simply keeping staff employed and safely working will be a big triumph for some companies. Others may feel proud of creating products or surprise and delight initiatives that put a smile on customers’ faces. Listen to this answer without judgment and see if you can resonate with these methods of value creation.
How Xref added value to other businesses
Our platform helped keep the wheels turning for essential services. Employers in health, logistics and essential retail needed to scale up very quickly to meet the increased demand caused by COVID-19.
Xref helped employers vet thousands of candidates in very short periods. This helped ensure new hires in critical settings like aged care were qualified for the job and ready to work. Knowing our platform was helping in this way was, and is, of enormous importance to our team. We work hard to support these businesses in any way possible and are proud of our work to date.
The Xref reference checking platform has become a crucial tool for employers to validate candidate information quickly when hiring remote staff.
3. Do you have a plan in place to face another crisis? What is your business resilience plan?
COVID-19 has reminded us that a crisis can strike at any time. In Australia, the pandemic came off the back of record-breaking bushfires and floods. This cemented the idea that stability is not promised.
Do you want to work for a company where your job will be secure for many years? Or would knowing your prospective employer has a plan in place be enough for you?
In response to these crises, companies have spent a lot of time forming business resilience plans. As a candidate, these plans may directly affect you. Before asking this question, take the time to think about what may be necessary to you. Once you know what you’d be comfortable with, deciding where to work next will be easier.
Xref’s business resilience plan
At Xref, our resilience plan includes retaining a focus on essential sectors, expanding on our product offering (there is more news to come about this), keeping our work from home policy, and ensuring healthy profitability and cash reserves.
A crisis sometimes means organisations need to make hard decisions. We approach crises with a people-first mindset and communicate why we make certain decisions and invest a lot of time helping employees cope with change.
4. What are your plans for flexible work?
Has a taste of remote work turned you off regular 9 to 5 work? If you answered yes, you are not alone.
McKinsey research shows 52% of employees would prefer a more flexible working model post-pandemic. 30% would be likely to switch jobs if no flexible work was offered.
Ask prospective employers about their flexible work policy, and don’t be afraid to probe for details. If an employer tells you flexible work is available, ask how this looks week to week.
A company may tell you they adopt a hybrid work model with mixed work-from-home and office days. Follow up with questions about how this split works and if they can negotiate which days can be worked remotely. Getting this information upfront will make it easier to decide who you want to work with.
Remote and flexible work at Xref
At Xref, we have moved to a remote-first model. We allow staff to operate from anywhere and still keep them tightly involved in our growth and success as a company.
Our office has been transformed into a ‘Hub’. Employees who need a break from remote work and want to meet and socialise with colleagues in person can come and use our hub. Outside of lockdown, our hub is used for company meetings, workshops and social activities like ping pong tournaments and staff drinks.
5. What are your plans for the future? What future projects are in the pipeline?
COVID-19 has made us all think about the future. We’ve seen firsthand that nothing is for certain except uncertainty. Companies should be preparing for a post-pandemic world and planning how they fit in.
As a potential employee, it’s reasonable to be interested in this vision. It’s also reasonable to be concerned by employers who don’t present you with one. In fact, 47% of candidates feel concerned by employers who display a lack of vision for a post-pandemic world.
A robust future vision will include information about the future of work, business resilience strategies and time dedicated to future projects.
Xref's plans for the future
At Xref, we’re focused on future projects. We’ve moved from surviving to thriving mode. We are committed to better serve our customers with even better products and services. We’ll soon be announcing more information around this. For now, we can say there are many projects in our business solely dedicated to future-proofing.
6. What does your Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) policy include?
A lot has happened in the last 18 months and we’re all much more conscious of how organisations can help make the world a better place.
The simple fact is that it feels good to work for a company that aligns with your own values. If you agree with this statement, you are part of the majority. According to research by Atlassian and PWC, more than 60% of workers want their employers to take action on social issues.
One way to find out exactly how an organisation plans to address important issues is to ask about their ESG policy and what it includes.
Xref's Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) policy
We are continuing to work on ways to keep helping businesses, large and small, make the world a better place by hiring the right staff.
At Xref, we follow a serious ESG policy. For instance, our policy includes simple things like paperless automation. Our product helps other companies reduce paper consumption because we operate with digital files and cloud-based sharing. This, in turn, helps the environment. Our platform has multiple language options to improve social inclusion.
We also help companies hire better staff at a faster rate. This is important at the best of times but has been critical during the pandemic. We’ve helped keep essential services operational and ensure both candidates and employees remain protected from fraud and discrimination.
7. How does your company celebrate individual contribution?
We can be more productive when working from home but it also blurs lines between work and home life. These blurred lines and the extra pressures of COVID-19 have led to many of us feeling burnt out. About 44% of employees say they are more burnt out today than a year ago.
Celebrating individual contribution is important because it is a key way burnout and anxiety at work can be mitigated. It is much easier to handle pressure when you know a company values your overall health and appreciates your individual contribution.
How Xref celebrates hard work
Here at Xref, we’ve built reward and recognition into our workflows. Here’s how:
- We are a meritocracy; we celebrate all individual achievements irrelevant of size.
- Internally we use ‘Workplace’ as an area to communicate and share. It is encouraged that value is called out and individual contribution is recognised daily.
- We host Quarterly and Annual rewards, including a People's Choice award.
- We reward valuable contributions through regular performance, career and remuneration reviews.
8. What does a career look like at your company?
This question has always been relevant during a job search. Due to the pandemic crisis, certain aspects of this answer will be most relevant.
COVID-19 increased digitisation around the world. As a result, 50% of all employees will need to reskill by 2025. It’s important to understand how your prospective employer plans to handle issues like reskilling and how they see your role evolving over time. If your job will be redundant in 5 years, how does your prospective employer plan to handle this?
Of course, you should look for more classic answers to this question too. Ascertain what the average tenure of employees is and how many promotions happen per year. Ask if staff hold shares in the company in question. The answer to all these questions will help you understand what a career will look like with your prospective employer.
What a career at Xref looks like
At Xref, we value every employee and work hard to help everyone who works with us further their career. Here are some facts that may be of interest:
- The average tenure of employees is three years. Management stays between 5 and 7 years.
- 30% of staff have more than five years of service.
- We made a record number of promotions post-pandemic in December 2020.
- Over 90% of staff hold shares in Xref.
- 21% of staff are now leaders who were hired in non-leadership positions.
- Xref has a history of retaining staff despite moves to other countries.
- We have active reskilling and learning and development initiatives.
9. How does your company support diversity, equality and inclusion?
The pandemic has exacerbated inequality and brought social injustices to the forefront. As a result, we care more than ever about how a company works to ensure people of all walks of life get a fair chance.
Ask about a prospective employer’s approach to diversity, equality and inclusion initiatives to understand what policies are in place. It’s perfectly fine to ask about gender pay gap issues, the makeup of the leadership team and what policies are in place to address discrimination. It would be a red flag to receive vague answers to these questions or to be made to feel bad for asking them.
Xref’s approach to diversity, equality and inclusion
At Xref, we are an open and inclusive company that celebrates staff from all walks of life.
Our staff represents 16 different countries. Almost half of our staff are female, and 62% of our leadership team are female. On top of this, 42% of our executive team are female.
We are proud of creating a workplace that celebrates equality and diversity and is always looking to improve initiatives in this area. We take feedback from staff seriously and work to ensure everyone can come to work as their true selves.
10. What do customers think of your product and service?
When times get tough, consumers are more risk-averse and stick to spending their money and time on products they know and love. Think about what you prioritised and de-prioritised over the last 18 months. Can you agree only the best products and services stayed in your orbit?
If you’re interested in working for a company that has longevity (and this is on everyone’s mind these days, isn’t it?) then ask about what their customers think of them. It’s one of the best ways to understand where a company’s product or service fits in the market. It also shows how effective a company is at what they do. If you don’t receive a straight answer to this question you can do your own research by looking at sites like Capterra and Google reviews, social media comments and customer testimonials on a company’s website.
How customers and users rate Xref
At Xref, our client retention rate is over 90%. To date, 75% of sales from 2021 are from long-term clients dating back to 2014. We have 4.7 stars out of 5 on G2 and Capterra. We also have over 500 Google reviews and have again earned an average of 4.7 stars out of 5. We also have plenty of case studies about happy customers who love our product!
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. However, we've experienced enough turbulence to know what to look for when preparing for a better future. Ask these questions to discover whether a company is a right fit for you, your future plans and values and your preferred way of working.
Thanks for reading & good luck with your interview!