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ATD Blog

Essential Questions and Self-Reflection for the First Week of a New Job

Monday, December 11, 2023

Getting a new job is exciting, full of the anticipation and eagerness that comes along with starting a fresh phase in your career. But almost as fast as these feelings lift you up, other feelings such as nervousness and uncertainty may pop up as well. This is to be expected. Hopefully, you’ve done your due diligence researching and learning as much as possible about your new company, as well as seeking insights and glimpses into its culture from human resources and the hiring manager during your interview process. Despite all this, you may still have plenty of questions, and the unknowns may leave you feeling anxious.

To help you prepare and ease your anxiety, focus on what information you can uncover and take charge of during the orientation process. The following questions can be helpful to ask your new employer before and during your first week at work.

Logistical Questions

  • Where do I go and who am I meeting on my first day?
  • What’s the dress code?
  • What documents do I need to bring?
  • How do I sign up for benefits, and what are the relevant deadlines?

Questions About Performance and Team Dynamics

  • What does success look like for me in week one, month one, and the first three months?
  • Who do I ask or what resources are available to me when I have questions?
  • How often will I receive feedback and from whom?
  • How will I collaborate and work with my teammates?
  • Who else should I meet with aside from my immediate team?

These are a small sampling of important questions to ask your new manager and team to help you navigate your new job. But the path to aligning expectations and gaining job clarity does not end here. Another important key to setting yourself up for success during this critical time is self-reflection: Ask yourself the following specific questions during your first week:


How would I describe the culture of this organization? How do I feel about it?
Understanding the organizational pulse is foundational to your experience of your new company. The way that you describe the culture in your own words can provide valuable insights. What are the norms, communication styles, and ways of working that stand out and resonate with you? Exploring these questions can help you gauge how well your personal values align with your new organization.

Where do I see opportunities to apply my strengths in this role?
Check the level of understanding you have of your role. You can then identify where and how your strengths can shine. This allows you to leverage your skills and amplify your impact early on. Not only will this contribute to your team’s productivity, it will also showcase the value you bring to the team and help build your professional brand and reputation.


What experience, skills, and capabilities do I need to gain or develop to be successful in this role or to get to the next level?
The value in this question is in the strategic compass it provides for your longer-term career aspirations. Clearly and transparently map out for yourself what your next career steps might be and identify any gaps that need to be addressed to move forward. This is a great way to sense-check whether you’re excited to pursue your likely path with this company and whether your next steps are realistic.

What are my goals in this role (30/60/90 days)?
Simultaneously ask your new manager what success looks like for you in this role. Once you’ve reflected on your strategic career development, you can effectively answer this question by framing your personal goals through the lens of your new boss’s expectations. Writing out your short-term goals is a call to action to propel you forward on your career path and help you contribute to the broader objectives of your team and organization.

Am I setting a well-balanced routine for myself?
This question is arguably the most important to ask yourself, because chances are, nobody else will ask you. You may have the desire or feel the need to jump into your new role and have as much impact as possible as fast as possible. Be careful not to take on too much and set a bad precedent for yourself. Establish a well-balanced work routine from the start and set realistic boundaries by prioritizing tasks effectively. Cultivate an environment that promotes sustained productivity and well-being. This sets the tone for you in your new role and beyond.

Success in a new job involves more than just acing the first week. It requires an ongoing process of growth, adaptation, and self-awareness. Using these questions to reflect on your own perspective as you start your new job will allow you to acclimate and connect more meaningfully to your new company, team, and role. More importantly, it will enhance and tailor your onboarding experience so that it aligns with your personal career goals. Nobody will care about your personal development and career more than you do. So, take the time to focus inwardly and to approach your new job with intention and purpose, so you can not only meet and exceed your new employer’s expectations but also set the stage for your own rewarding career development.

About the Author

Jessica Rivera is a workplace Learning & Development professional with over 20 years of experience across multiple industries for companies including AdventHealth, Baylor Scott & White Health and Disney Cruise Line. She is currently the People & Organization Development Lead at Wise overseeing their global onboarding program. She is also the founder & CEO of New Job Notebook LLC, helping people discover a better way to start a new job.

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