When an individual leaves an organization, HR will often conduct an exit interview to learn the primary reasons for their departure. The responses range from ‘it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up’ (heard that from a client just last week), to ‘this isn’t a healthy environment for me’ (heard that from a client just last month). The insights gained from these meetings provide an opportunity for the employee to be heard… and for the company to learn.
There is a new twist on this, recommended by business guru Adam Grant: an entry interview. He posted a LinkedIn video where he proposed they are a great way to make the onboarding experience meaningful. “I’m seeing a lot of CEOs scramble and say, ‘OK, we’ve got to do exit interviews to figure out from the people who actually left what we can do to keep the people we want to stay.’ I’m a big fan of exit interviews–there’s just one little issue; it is the dumbest time to run them. Why would you wait until people have already committed to walk out the door to say, if only I had a time machine, I would go back to the past and convince you to stay?”
While an entry interview for someone you just hired might seem repetitive, Grant believes the answers you receive may be more open and revealing, since people are more relaxed and less concerned about making a good impression. As for questions to ask, he says many of the same ones as the hiring interview are valuable: ‘Why are you here?’ ‘What are you hoping to learn?’ ‘What are some of the best projects you’ve worked on?’ ‘Tell me about the worst boss you’ve ever had.’ So you can try to emulate the good and avoid the bad.”
Next time you hire a new employee, think about conducting an entry interview. You might learn some things that are so valuable you’ll never have to see them in the exit interview queue.