Document labeled 401(k).

When you’re considering a job, there are many different factors in play. Most people think of the salary first and foremost, but benefits can be equally important. What can be challenging is knowing when to bring them up in the process. Asking about vacation days in your first interview is a definite mistake. It’s a discussion that should be had later in the process, but just how much later? Today we’ll be answering that question. Below we will outline when is generally the best time to ask about benefits during the hiring process.

Timing is Everything

Early on in the process, a good rule is to not bring up benefits unless the company does first. For example, many recruiters will ask about specifics, knowing what the company offers and trying to pair it up with a candidate looking for the same thing. Some companies won’t discuss benefits at all. If they are brought up, you’re better off having a general conversation at first than asking in depth questions. Different companies operate in very different ways. Some may have listed the salary and benefits all in their job descriptions online, whereas others may not mention it at all. If a company is outright with it, they are likely okay with you having an open discussion.

For all other companies who don’t bring benefits up, the best time to discuss them is after an offer is made to you. At this point, you hold the most power, and it doesn’t seem assumptive of you to ask about benefits. Throughout interviews and phone screens the company has had the chance to better understand your qualifications before making a decision. Now is your chance to evaluate them, and the package they are offering in return. It’s also not uncommon at this stage to ask for a complete breakdown of the benefits package to be sent over. If you have further questions you can follow up with whoever sent you the benefits breakdown.

Negotiation & Questions

If you’re unhappy with what is offered, or feel like you may be able to gain more, you could negotiate. Some companies may be firm on their salary offering, but willing to give you more days off. You won’t know if you don’t ask! Just keep in mind that any outrageous requests towards the end of the hiring process could cause companies to rescind their offer. Just be reasonable when negotiating, if you decide to.

Even if you don’t want to negotiate, you’ll probably have some questions before accepting an offer. We’ve collected a few important questions about benefits below:

  • How many days of vacation and/or PTO are offered?
  • Is there a waiting period to enroll in the health/dental/vision plan?
  • Are any of my family members covered under the benefits package?
  • Does you company offer 401K match, and what is the percentage?

These are just a few questions to get you started, but they cover some of the most important topics! Make sure you are well informed and fully understand your benefits package before accepting a job offer.