Onboarding Questions for New Hires

Philip Cleave
April 19, 2021
Staff member arrives dressed for their onboarding day.

When you consider that as many as one in every five new hires are unlikely to recommend their employer, it highlights the importance of creating the right impression, helping staff settle in, providing everything they need to perform their role and keeping them engaged during their first few days, weeks and months with your organization. Not only will this give them the best chance of becoming successful long-term employees, but it will also ensure they’re more likely to recommend your business to others.

The best way to achieve this is by having an effective employee onboarding process in place. Typically focused on helping new staff integrate into a company and its culture, the onboarding process is also about giving new recruits the tools and information they need to meet the performance aspects of their role and the organization they have joined.

Why employee onboarding is important

From helping them to settle in and orientate themselves with their role, team, colleagues and the wider organization, to engaging them, helping them get up to speed more quickly and enabling them to become productive and valuable members of staff. There are many benefits to be gained during this most critical period of a new recruit’s employment journey, so it’s vital to get it right.

Employee feedback is key

While it’s the responsibility of the employer to provide the tools and environment that will engage employees and help them thrive, it’s not so easy to know what is the best mix to help them achieve this without ongoing feedback from your employees. Fortunately, if you choose to run an onboarding survey, also referred to as a new hire survey, you’ll give yourself the best chance of obtaining this.

Getting ahead with an onboarding survey

From their thoughts about their very first day, their induction program and any initial training you have provided, to their impressions of their role, manager, team and your wider organization. There are many insightful benefits that you can gain from an onboarding survey, that can not only help you to better support that individual but improve how you do things for future recruits joining your business.

To gain the greatest value from your onboarding survey, you’ll need to run it frequently throughout your new recruits’ probation period. However, you’ll also need to consider your onboarding survey questions and developing appropriate ones for each stage of the employee onboarding process, whether that’s after their first day, week, month or at the end of their probation period.

Consider too the different types of survey questions you could use, as each has their own particular strengths best suited to meeting different scenarios and objectives. For example, while closed quantitative style questions, which present respondents with limited options from which to select their answer are easy to analyze, open qualitative style questions, which allow participants to answer in their own words are better for uncovering how respondents really feel.

Example onboarding questions

As with any survey it can be useful to have some sample questions with which to draw inspiration from, particular if it’s a survey type that’s new and unfamiliar to you and the onboarding survey is no different.

After day one

From getting up to speed with all the tools and systems you will be using in your job and what are likely to be your most immediate priorities, to getting to know your colleagues and other key people you’re likely to be working with throughout the business. As a new employee, there’s a lot to take in on your first day, names and faces to remember and information you’ll be trying to absorb and get answers to in order to quickly get up to speed. So, employers need to be aware of this and realize that with the right new hire survey questions, they can get a valuable insight into how new recruits feel after their first day and if they are getting the right information and support.

Subsequently, you may like to consider asking some of the following questions:

  • How did your first day go?
  • Do you feel you have a clear idea of what is expected of you in this job?
  • Are there any questions we haven’t answered?
  • Is there any more we could have done on your first day?

At the end of their first week

After they have completed their first week, it’s likely that many new employees will have been through some kind of induction process. Therefore, this offers the perfect opportunity to run some induction questions past them and get a feel about what they thought of your induction program, as well as their initial impressions of their role, manager and team.

  • How satisfied were you with the welcome you received from your department and the wider business?
  • How satisfied were you with your manager’s ability to lead and provide direction to you?
  • How satisfied were you with the essential tools (i.e. computer, phone, in-house systems, applications etc.) provided to you in order to carry out your job?
  • What’s your first impressions of your role?
  • What’s your initial thoughts on your manager?
  • What’s your first impressions of your team?

Following their first month

By now your new hires should have started to settle down, integrate into the business and be making inroads into their workload. So, being able to ask questions at this stage to check that they’ve got everything they need to be maximally engaged and productive can be hugely valuable. This early stage is also vital in helping new hires integrate into your business, build their cross-department network, make friends, and start to feel they belong. So, it’s useful to be able to see how they are progressing in this area too.

Suitable questions could include any of the following:

  • Do you feel happy that you have everything you need to be productive in your job?
  • How included and accepted do you feel at work?
  • How confident do you feel in working with other teams?
  • Is there any more we could do to support you?
  • Is there anything you wish you’d been told?

It could be that by this stage some of your new recruits could have also undergone some level of training, whether in-house or external offering a great opportunity to get their feedback on this through a training survey.

In such a scenario you may also consider some of the following questions to help evaluate this:

  • Did you find the training or course you attended engaging? And did it deliver what you were expecting?
  • What did you think about the quality of materials that you were provided with?
  • How did you rate the performance of your tutor? (based on a rating from ‘very strong’ to ‘very poor’)
  • How useful was the knowledge that you learnt, and do you envisage it being valuable to your job going forward?

After 3 months

At this point the onboarding process is coming to an end as the new employee completes their probation period, which makes it the perfect time to get their feedback about the onboarding program they have received.

Suitable questions could include any of the following:

  • How did you find our onboarding program?
  • What did we do best?
  • What could we have done better?
  • Is there any kind of information you could have done with having more of?

Survey questions for remote workers

Given the growing number of employees who have been working remotely since the beginning of the Covid pandemic and the increased shift towards remote working that’s likely to happen even when it’s deemed safe to return to the office, it’s useful to be able to develop some specific onboarding questions for remote workers. This is because there are some distinct differences between working in the office and working remotely, particularly when it comes to quickly working out a new recruit’s working preferences and style. The sorts of issues we are talking about here are things such as how they may prefer to receive to communications and feedback to what factors in the work environment most annoy them and what best motivates them.

When everyone is co-located, it’s much easier to answer these questions. You can read body language to surmise when a co-worker may be annoyed with you, or sense when a tense atmosphere is developing during a group meeting. Subsequently, after registering these cues, you can quickly act on them, circling back to console teammate if you think you may have annoyed them with a comment or action, or clarify confusion within a group that was maybe contributing towards a tense atmosphere.

This is much harder to do with remote colleagues, which is where the feedback from an onboarding survey can be valuable.

Some useful onboarding survey question examples for remote workers could include any of the following:

  • What’s your preferred way to receive feedback, in terms of format and speed? (I.e. one to one or by email; immediately or at less busy times of the working day)
  • What sorts of things can annoy you in the workplace? (I.e. from too many Zoom meetings to too many distractions from incessant pinging of messages on a work instant messenger app)
  • What motivates you the greatest in your work life?
  • Who’s been the best co-worker or team you’ve worked with and why?
  • What’s your favorite way to decompress after work?

Final thoughts on onboarding questions and surveys for new hires

If you didn’t already realize before reading this blog, you should by now have a better appreciation of why the onboarding process is so important for new employees, not just in setting the tone for the rest of their employment journey, but in influencing whether they decide to stay or leave.

While the onboarding survey is pivotal in better understanding the needs of employees already going through your onboarding process, it can also ensure it’s even better adapted to the new recruits that follow. However, it’s also important to note that this should just be the start of surveying your employees and that by conducting further staff surveys with them, you can ensure they are best supported during their employment with you and remain happy and productive.

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If you would like more information then please get in touch.