Between getting the offer and accepting it, improve your understanding of the company, the boss, and the job. Discuss these issues with a couple of insiders and a couple of outsiders. Find one or two insiders (current or former employees) you may know or can get introduced to and discuss the company with them delicately, as it could be awkward if word got back to the company. Ask them about the history of the job, the problems as they see them, and information on your prospective boss, whose personality is important because of the close association
you’ll have if you take this job. Find out as much as you can. What’s the boss’s style? Demanding? A stickler for detail? Ask the question, “What’s the boss like?” to several who know her. People when asked this question don’t like to be critical. First you’re likely to get a bland answer. “She’s OK and very competent.” To get the most realistic answer, use the Rule of Four. By repeating the same question three times, slightly varying the wording, you may finally get, “She’s really tough. Nobody is happy working for her”—the information you sought.

Also talk to outsiders, people who are likely to have a general knowledge of the company, such as bankers, lawyers, stockbrokers, suppliers, trade association members, and job hunters. Ask about the company’s general reputation, its performance, and its future prospects. Be sure you’re comfortable with the industry and with the company’s position in it.

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