Retaining Top Talent With Entrance Interviews NOT Exit Interviews!

Steve, a long-time employee of a renowned service-providing organization, has just handed in his letter of resignation to his very stunned manager, Matt.

“Why are you resigning? I don’t understand,” exclaimed Matt. “You seemed so happy here! You had one of the best work ethics I have ever seen in an employee! And you were always considered one of our top producing employees!”

Matt continued, his voice cracking. Dismay and disappointment were clearly evident in his tone of voice. With his head shaking in shock, Matt pleads, “You were given complete freedom to develop your own strategies, set your own pace. All of the managers pretty much left you alone! I can’t believe this! I guess I’ll go get the exit survey form….”

Have you ever been in Matt’s position? Have you ever had a star employee leave and you never even saw it coming? Remember that sinking feeling you had because you felt so blind-sided? And now you had to figure out a way to get his work done.

Here’s the big question… How much fun was it to complete the exit survey form? By any stretch of the imagination, exit surveys are not fun! We advocate a far more proactive concept- the Entrance Interview.

Called the “Entrance Interview,” it is far more proactive, than the reactive exit interviw. It is light-hearted and far more pleasant to complete than the exit survey. Additionally, it is a means by which to garner some valuable information about your new employee. It can completely alleviate that shocked and sinking feeling of never having seen the top talent’s resignations coming!

The setting for an Entrance Interview should be less formal than a conference room. It should be conducted by that individual’s direct manager because it serves two purposes:

  • To build a trusting and communicative relationship with their direct manager.
  • To proactively address causes of employee turnover prior to such an occurrence. In many ways, it is the answer to the test before it is administered.

An appropriate setting for this exchange is during an off-site lunch. It is best completed within 3 days of a new hire’s arrival. During this first week of employment, a new employee is filled with anticipation and wonderment. They are enamored by the experiences that lie before them. They are flattered by the fact that their boss wants to know how they feel; what fears they have about the job, and what they feel they need to perform at an exemplary level.

Here are some sample questions to ask during an Entrance Survey:

  • Tell me more about you. Where did you grow up? What was your first job? What did that first job teach you that you still remember today? What are you hobbies? If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would that be? Why did you choose there?
  • Why did you accept the position at our great company?
  • Which aspects of your new job are you most excited?
  • Which facets of your new job are you most concerned?
  • What motivates you? What types of challenges do you believe allow you to perform at your best? What elements of a typical job, not just this one, do find least exciting?
  • What form of recognition do you really enjoy?
  • How do you prefer to communicate? And how often?
  • Even though you have only been with the company a few days, if you were asked to devise a way to have more fun at our company, how/what would you do?
  • What are you most eager to learn here at our company?
  • Are there specific areas of your career development you would like us to address or assist you in participating?
  • Why would leave this job? What would keep you?

It’s a simple matter of being proactive with the Entrance Interview to avoid the dreaded exit nterview!

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