Beginning a new job is always a little overwhelming. Not only are you adjusting to a whole new project, office, and set of coworkers, you’re also trying to figure out what your boss wants and how to deliver it.
By asking the right questions, however, you can make your first month on the job far more manageable.
1. “What’s your preferred method of communication?”
Some managers want to do everything in person. Others prefer email, chat, or even text. Rather than trying to guess what your supervisor likes, simply ask him or her.
2. “How often do you like to talk?”
Ideally, you and your manager will be on the same page when it comes to check-ins; maybe you both prefer quickly catching up once a day, or giving more comprehensive updates once a week. But if you have different styles, it’s your job to adapt to your boss, not the other way around.
That’s why it’s important to figure out from day one how often he or she likes to talk.
3. “What would you like to see me accomplish in the first week, month, and three months?”
Depending on how long your contract is, you may need to adjust this timeline. However, the essential element—identifying your supervisor’s biggest goals for you—won’t change.
The answer to this question will help you determine what you should prioritize and what you should shift to the back burner.
4. “What kinds of decisions and actions would you like to review in advance? What would you like me to handle on my own?”
What’s one of the biggest obstacles to adjusting to a new boss? Figuring out where he or she draws the line between managing and micromanaging.
Your supervisor may trust you to do everything independently. Or your supervisor may want to approve all your decisions (at least for the first couple weeks). The more information you have about his or her expectations, the easier it’ll be to meet them.
5. “What’s a common mistake people in this position make?”
This question is a great way to see what you shouldn’t do. You’ll probably get some insights you didn’t expect—but even if you don’t, you’ll impress your boss with your thoughtfulness and foresight.
6. “Are there any resources I should be aware of?”
Since you’re a consultant, you’ll probably go through a different onboarding process than a traditional employee. That means topics that are usually covered in orientation (like which resources are offered) might not be covered in depth.
7. “Who should I go to with questions about __________?”
Rather than going to your manager with every question you have—and then being redirected to the appropriate person—figure out in advance who’s the best person to help with various situations or topics.
While you can never make your first couple of weeks completely stress- or mistake-free, asking these questions will definitely help ease your transition.