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Squeezing the Most Out of Your Onboarding Interviews

Sep 3, 2014
Deb Muller


There are a myriad of to-dos for Human Resources when a new hire comes on, but the most important step of onboarding a new employee is the post-hire interview.

This should take place anywhere from 4-6 months from the hire’s start date, and with the goal of gauging how well the organization is doing with their recruiting, training and onboarding practices. It is also a great time to get proactive about workplace issues that the new hire might be experiencing. Bonus? They might be just past the honeymoon period and willing to tell you the honest truth.

Ideally, an HR professional who has gone through the appropriate training should conduct these interviews, but this may not always be possible. No matter who is handling the post-hire interview, it’s a massive missed opportunity that your team can use to reduce risk, improve retention and get better at onboarding. Concentrate on these areas during your post-hire interviews to get the data you need to make improvements and get proactive about employee relations issues.

Q: How would they rate their experience throughout the recruitment process?

The information gathered about a new hire’s candidate experience grants your recruitment team some insight into the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. With only about 5% of job applicants rating their experience “excellent”, there will likely be room for improvement.

It is especially important to gather information about how the candidate was treated. If they felt in any way discriminated against, or treated unfairly, the actions or behaviors that caused them to feel this way should be investigated immediately. If these issues persist, it could put the organization in jeopardy of facing litigation. Agree on a numerical scale for general feelings about their recruitment process and anecdotal feedback for specific areas that seem to need attention.

Q: What about the onboarding process?

Talent management experts contend that there is a strong correlation between low retention rates, and weak or non-existent onboarding processes. The onboarding process is crucial for establishing expectations, and the information collected during the post-hire interview can assist employers in doing that as effectively as possible. Slamming a binder down and uploading new programs to an empty computer does not make the onboarding process complete. Every company has its own processes and procedures, all the way down to the mailroom. Unfortunately, most companies neglect to tune in new employees, leaving them floundering for guidance at a crucial juncture.

This is also the step of the new hire lifecycle in which ensuring compliance is vital. If your new hire doesn’t know the rules, how can you protect them and your company? Short answer: You can’t. In the interview, confirm that the employee has access to all information and resources necessary. Then, confirm they understand it. A quick and informal quiz on policies and procedures can help you gauge their knowledge on company compliance.

Q: Was the training program effective?

Formal training is a process that all new hires should be asked to evaluate. The interviewer must find out if the employee felt as though they were adequately prepared for the job requirements. The interviewer should also solicit information about whether or not additional training is needed and how effective their training has proven to be. Ask specifically, which modules or areas of the training program have had a direct impact on his or her job. Take this knowledge back to hiring managers or CLOs in aggregate to create better training initiatives.

Q: Are expectations being met?

New hires generally come into a new organization with a lot of expectations. When there is deviation from those expectations, it can cause dissonance. This is a great time to revisit job descriptions and ensure that they are as accurate as possible. Dissonance can be getting hired as a creative director and then finding out that expected responsibilities are more akin to a junior-level designer. You can share these findings with recruiting and marketing teams to assist with employer branding initiatives. You should also ensure they have the tools needed to do their work properly.

A study conduct by Equifax revealed that 40% of employees who left their jobs voluntarily in 2013 did so within 6 months of starting the position. That statistic certainly represents a strong reason to improve and/or implement post-hire interviews. Focus on post-hire interviews if for no other reason than reducing exit interviews.

Use this interview as an opportunity to be proactive about workplace issues.

Post-hire interviews should also be seen as a prime opportunity to get proactive about identifying and handling workplace issues that might otherwise go unnoticed. Soliciting information about potential complaints doesn’t just start a healthy dialogue, in certain cases; it can prevent costly employment practice litigation. However, starting a healthy dialogue doesn’t just happen overnight. An honest, two-way dialogue between HR and new hires needs to be cultivated immediately so that employees feel comfortable communicating workplace issues. The perfect time to do this is in the post-hire interview.

As the instance of EEOC claims increases, HR professionals must take steps to prevent workplace issues, and mitigate the risk those formal charges present. Because the post-hire interview is documented (not an option), having this information is vital to safeguarding the organization in the case of future litigation.

The interviewer should always disclose the motives for soliciting this information. Let the employee know that this data is vital in making improvements and keeping the workplace safe and healthy. The post-hire interview is a prime example of how HR and management can act in the best interest of the organization, while being a representative of the workforce.

Photo Credit: Thepiwko via bigstock

Deb Muller
Deb Muller is the CEO of HR Acuity, employee relations case management and investigations software that combines documentation, process, and human expertise so organizations can meet the challenge of managing employee relations in the modern world.