Starting a new job can feel a lot like your first day of high school. Sure, you have those more adult concerns of wanting to prove your worth and demonstrate that you’ll be able to excel in that new position.
But, more often than not, your biggest worry is this: Will everybody like you? Will you make fast friends in the office, or will you be tempted to eat your lunch alone while locked in a bathroom stall?
Fortunately, there’s something you can do to make the right impression and quickly secure your spot as the most beloved co-worker on your team—and, it all starts with asking one (or all!) of these four questions during your first week on the job.
1. Can You Tell Me a Little Bit About Your Role?
In order to successfully communicate and collaborate with other employees at your company, you need to have a solid grasp on what exactly it is that they do. While job titles can give you a surface-level glimpse into the different tasks they’re responsible for, those really only tell you so much. For that reason, it’s always helpful to explicitly ask your colleagues what sorts of things they do on a daily basis.
The benefits of this question are two-fold. First, you’ll get a much more comprehensive understanding of specific people’s job duties—which will be a benefit as you continue to get your feet under you at that company. You’ll know who to approach with certain questions or requests, rather than wandering aimlessly.
Secondly, this sort of question demonstrates your genuine interest in your colleagues. It shows that you don’t want to work in a vacuum and operate with general assumptions about what other people are doing for eight hours a day—you really want to know them, so that you can work together that much more effectively.
2. Mind If I Sit Here?
There are plenty of workplaces out there that are warm and welcoming—meaning you’ll likely end up with seemingly endless lunch invitations during your first week. But, if that doesn’t happen? There’s no need to wait for everybody else to extend an invite. Instead, take a deep breath, put yourself out there, and ask to sit with a group of your new co-workers during lunch.
Being the one to take the first step makes you appear that much more friendly and approachable—not to mention confident.
Once you find a place to sit, follow that up with some questions about what your colleagues like to do when they’re not at the office. It’s a great opportunity to discover any common interests, while also reaffirming the fact that you want to get to know them as people—and not just team members.
3. How Can My Position Best Help You?
This question is a big one. And, it’s almost guaranteed to inspire ridiculous, cartoon heart-eyes in all of your new colleagues.
You understand the core duties of your new position—the job description was able to fill you in on that much. But, now it’s smart to go a step beyond that and find out how your role can bring the most value to the other people on your team.
From your co-workers to your boss, finding out how you can be an asset to them and make their lives just a little bit easier—right from the get-go—is a surefire way to prove that you want to work in the interest of the team, and not just yourself.
Of course, you don’t want to extend too far outside of what’s expected of your position. However, if there are simple things you can be doing to better work with your team members, knowing those within your first week is helpful.
4. Can I Help You With Anything?
Your first week at a new job can feel a little strange. Most of the time, it’s filled with plenty of paperwork, the occasional meeting, and failed attempts at finding your way from the bathroom to your desk—without leaving a helpful trail of paperclips.
But, since you’re really only getting up to speed, there’s typically some downtime. You don’t have a ton of real work on your plate during that week—and, as an added bonus, almost nobody knows your email address yet.
This makes it the perfect time to ask your colleagues if there’s anything that you can help them with. Not only is it a great way to make a positive impression on your team members, but it’s also an excellent strategy to gain some hands-on experience—and a better understanding of how everything works in the process.
The first week in a new role is usually enough to bring you back to all of those first-day-of-school insecurities—particularly when you’re concerned about whether or not your colleagues will like you.
Fortunately, you can take matters into your own hands. Ask these four questions when you’re just getting started in your new position, and your co-workers won’t just like you—they’ll respect and admire you too.
Photo of new co-worker courtesy of Paul Bradbury/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author