A new-hire questionnaire—or employee onboarding survey—is a set of questions employers ask their new hires to understand their professional preferences, goals, and onboarding experience. It’s a useful way to get to know a new employee, identify any issues or concerns at an early stage, and collect constructive feedback on the onboarding process.
Employers usually deploy new-hire questionnaires throughout an employee’s onboarding experience—for example, on their first day, at the end of their first week, and at the end of the onboarding process.
The specific timing and questions included in a new-hire survey can be tailored to suit an organization and its employees.
Why Should You Use New-Hire Questionnaires?
Get to know your new hires better
New-hire questionnaires help you discover information about new employees that’s useful for supporting them to integrate with your company culture and succeed in their new role. You can also gain insight into how best to manage them and maximize their productivity.
Poor onboarding leads to higher employee turnover—one survey found that almost 30% of new hires leave a job within their first 90 days. Questionnaires during this time offer new employees the space to raise any concerns or issues they have so you can address them at an early stage. It also demonstrates to your new hires that you value their opinion and feedback and care about their workplace experience, which can help to reduce the likelihood of them leaving.
Enhances the onboarding process
According to Gallup, only 12% of US workers feel their organization does a good job of onboarding. New-hire questionnaires can give you invaluable insight into what is and isn’t working with your onboarding process and how you can improve it for future employees.
When Should You Ask New Hires To Complete Questionnaires?
You can adapt the timing of new-hire questionnaires to suit your organization and employees, but here are some examples of the best times to conduct them.
- on a new employee’s first day
- at the end of their first week
- at the end of their first month
- at the end of the formal onboarding process—typically 3 or 6 months.
Tips for Designing New-Hire Questionnaires
Deliver and collate your questionnaires digitally
While you can send out paper questionnaires, using a survey app or online tool is much easier. It’s the most convenient way for employees to participate in a questionnaire and is therefore likely to increase their engagement rate. It also makes it quicker to collate and compare the data you collect.
Prepare your new hires for the questionnaires
Don’t ambush your new hires—instead, tell them in advance about your new-hire questionnaires and when they can expect them. Knowing when a questionnaire is coming means an employee is likely to give more thoughtful responses. Also, encourage your new hires to answer your questionnaires honestly.
Ask the right type of questions
Use a mix of open, closed, and Likert scale questions—which allow employees to indicate the degree to which they agree with a statement. Open and Likert scale questions help you obtain deeper responses than a simple “yes” or “no”. Avoid leading questions that may unintentionally influence the responses you collect.
Make your questionnaires easy to complete
New employees are often overwhelmed in their first few days and weeks in a job. They’re experiencing a steep learning curve and have many things to do as part of their onboarding process. Keep questionnaires quick and easy to complete to encourage maximum participation.
Follow up with employees in person
Questionnaires shouldn’t replace human interaction. Make sure you’re checking in with your new hires in person during their onboarding experience—and especially if they raise any concerns in their responses.
Example Questions for New Hires
The first questionnaire you give new hires—typically on their first day—should focus on getting to know your new employee and how you can best support them in their role.
Ask questions to explore their professional preferences and work style. Doing so reassures new employees that they can be themselves while being supported within the organization’s culture.
Questions that explore this include:
- What have been your biggest career achievements to date?
- What have been your biggest professional challenges?
- What do you need to perform your best in a role?
- What are your strengths at work?
- Do you prefer working independently or in a team?
- What is your preferred learning style—listening, reading, doing, watching, etc?
At the end of an employee’s first week, they are fully immersed in the onboarding process and should be becoming familiar with their work, the company culture, and your organization’s expectations of them.
However, they are still in an adjustment period and your questions should help identify any issues that have arisen.
- How are you finding the role so far—what do you like/dislike?
- Do you have everything you need to perform your role?
- Do you understand who to go to if you have questions about your work?
- How have you found the onboarding process so far? What aspect of it has been most useful? Where could it have been improved?
- How have you found the training so far?
- How have you found the company culture?
- How have you found your team?
- Are there any aspects of your job that are worrying you?
- Have you completed the necessary steps of the induction process so far—e.g. completing any mandatory documents or training?
The next new-hire questionnaire at the 1-month mark of a new employee’s tenure should identify any gaps between their expectations of the role and how they are finding it after their first month. This is a good opportunity to discover how you can better support your new hire’s professional development by asking questions such as:
- Do you feel you understand what is expected of you?
- How are you finding working with your team?
- Does the role meet your expectations?
- What would you like to understand better about our product or service?
- How are you finding working and communicating with your manager?
- Do you feel you have a good work-life balance?
- Has the training you received been relevant to your role?
- How has the organization and the role met your expectations?
It’s important to conduct a new-hire questionnaire at the end of their onboarding process—usually 3 or 6 months after they start. This is the time for new employees to reflect on their performance in the role and for you to check in on their satisfaction levels.
It’s also a good time to get feedback on the overall onboarding process. The following are examples of questions you can ask.
- What are your biggest successes in the role so far?
- What are your biggest challenges so far?
- Do you understand the organization’s goals and values? How does your work fit in with these?
- How have you found the onboarding process? Is there anything we could have done differently?
- Are you enjoying the role so far?
- Do you feel supported by your teammates/manager?
- What are your short and long-term professional goals?
The questions you include in your new-hire survey are entirely up to you. When designing them, consider the aim of your questionnaire and the information you want to get from your new hires.
New-hire questionnaires provide useful insights into your new employees’ professional preferences and goals, as well as their onboarding experience. New-hire questionnaires also identify any issues or concerns new employees may have, allowing you to address them at an early stage and reduce employee turnover.
You can adapt the timing and questions of a new-hire questionnaire to suit your organization and its business goals. When designing a survey, use a mix of open, closed, and Likert scale questions. Prepare your new hires by telling them when to expect a questionnaire and follow up with them in person to review any issues they raise.