2

Entry interviews, not exit interviews

Waking my dog this morning in about 22 degree weather and it occurred to me that I haven’t really blogged much this week. OH NO! Didn’t feel like writing a long tome, but wanted to put something on the deck for my approximately 11 fans. Here we go. This isn’t going to be rocket science, but maybe it will resonate.

Most companies do exit interviews, right? When someone has already decided to take another opportunity or outright quit because they can’t take the bullshit anymore?

Seems to me (and/or any reasonable person) that an “exit” interview would be too late.

The person already basically out the door completely.

What about an entry interview?

Hmm.

Turns out Adam Grant has my back on this!

The case for the entry interview

From here:

Too often, managers don’t know enough about what work people enjoy. It spills out in exit interviews — a standard practice in every HR department to find out why talented people are leaving and what would have convinced them to stick around. But why wait until they’re on their way out the door? One of us, Adam, has worked with companies in multiple industries to design entry interviews. In the first week on the job, managers sit down with their new hires and ask them about their favorite projects they’ve done, the moments when they’ve felt most energized at work, the times when they’ve found themselves totally immersed in a state of flow, and the passions they have outside their jobs. Armed with that knowledge, managers can build engaging roles from the start.

Amen. Let’s break this into two parts.

Part 1: “Managers don’t know enough about what work people enjoy”

Yes. This is true.

The main reason is that a lot of managers don’t actually talk to their direct reports. They hide behind technology (email, platforms) and meetings, etc.

Stats abound like: 68 percent of managers aren’t engaged in their employees’ career development. Or: 60 percent of managers “don’t have the time” to respect their employees. Only 34 percent of managers can name even one strength of their employees.

The manager-employee relationship can be great — I’ve had 1 or 2 — but its normative state is a miserable mess of poor communication and ignorance. I’d completely agree that most managers don’t know about the work their people would even enjoy. How would they? Do  they ask?

Part 2: The entry interview

This is about doing onboarding better. I write about this a lot.

Since I’m not in HR, that might confuse you. Let me try to explain it quickly.

I write about it because it seems logical to me that it needs to be important.

People get disengaged from jobs fairly fast. It happens for many reasons, usually tied to the manager.

But if you come into a company with no real context or understanding of the bigger picture, why would you really care?

For example: if you ask one question of new hires, it increases the likelihood they end up staying longer.

But I bet most people don’t even know that.

I think most people think of onboarding as some generic HR thing: team lunch, quick meetings, whatever. A few KPIs hurled over the fence.

Onboarding could be really powerful for companies and employees, but often is just trite bullshit.

Seems an entry interview might make it better. At least it feels like this company cares about you, right? What you think? How you want to work?

The bottom line

You care a lot about your customers, right? If they complain, you respond instantly.

Well, just start thinking of employees as internal customers.

From first contact — recruiting, sourcing — until they choose to exit, you need to respond to their needs and concerns too.

The conventional argument here is “Well, we pay them!”

Indeed.

But in the modern era, I’m not entirely sure that’s enough — especially in tech and other roles, where people can push/demand salaries.

We all want to make scratch, sure, but we want some opportunities for growth too. We also want to be treated as human beings.

Seems an entry interview would be an easy, no-cost way to start that process off on the right foot.

Right?

Ted Bauer

2 Comments

  1. Yep. Other thing that’s flawed about exit interviews is whether people decide they are willing to be honest, and whether that honest feedback is actually taken to heart and implemented by management.

    Personal example: I finally got a new gig that will let me WFH, and have been debating how honest I want to be in my exit interview at my current employer. They have consistently shown themselves to be closed-off to constructive criticism, so I’m not sure being fully honest would have much of an effect; if anything, it might backfire and I might be made out to be the bad guy. I believe that in order to change, you’ve gotta want to change, and they have shown that they’re anything but ready for that.

    After consulting with my colleagues and a FB group I frequent that’s particular to my industry, I’ve decided to just frame my exit interview around “this other opportunity was too exciting to pass up and will advance my career”, which isn’t untrue, but not all I COULD say. After all, I would consider working here again (just not under my current boss), and I do like my coworkers on a personal level, so I’ve decided to pull some punches—maybe the fact that 22% of our workforce has retired/resigned in the past few weeks (likely with more on the way) will spark change.

    Had my new boss conducted an “entry interview” when she shifted me to work directly under her this past summer, though, and said feedback was used to design my new role (which after 6 months is still up in the air, haha), I might’ve stuck around.

    Entry interviews seem like a proactive way to address possible concerns and allow employees some degree of input into their jobs. I’m for it.

Reply If You'd Like