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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Dec 18, 2020

During December and January we are replaying some of our most popular episodes from previous years. This is from 5th October 2019 - Entrance Interviews Beat Exit Interviews




Entrance interviews beat exit interviews any day of the week. In this Leadership Today podcast cover some questions to draw on the experiences and observations of new starters to improve our organisations.





Welcome to episode 56 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we’re looking at the power of entrance interviews - drawing on the experiences and observations of new starters to improve our organisations.


Last week we explored ways to improve exit interviews. However, it’s important not just to focus on those leaving our organisation - after all, they’ve already decided to move on. We need to also capitalise on those who are newer to our organisation and the fresh perspectives they bring.


Think back to the last time you joined a new organisation. In those first few weeks you were hyper aware of what was different or unusual about the organisation - the positives, the negatives, and the just plain weird. The security access seems really tight, but people hold the door open for others all the time. People make an effort to introduce themselves and make others feel welcome. Meetings always start 10 minutes late. Most people setup their laptop and work on emails during meetings. There’s a buzz of excitement around the office. Or, it’s like a dentist waiting room in here - all I can hear is typing.


Wouldn’t it be great to capitalise on these unique perspectives as people join your organisation? Like exit interviews, entrance interviews are a great opportunity to learn. But they’re even better than exit interviews because you can still course correct. You might even pick up some frustrations and reduce unwanted staff turnover along the way.


I suggest undertaking entrance interviews at two points in time - 30 days and 90 days after joining. 30 days gives enough time to process what’s unique about the organisation before becoming fully entrenched. And 90 days provides additional time to experience some things for the first time. 


I think the two-up manager, the leader two levels above the person, is in a great position to undertake these interviews. It helps that leader to remain close to the experience of new people, while also building relationships and connections. They’re also a step further away from the day-to-day which may bring a different perspective to the discussion. The person’s direct manager could also be well suited to undertake the entrance interview.


It’s important to frame the entrance interview as not being a test. You’re not putting the individual on trial here, and there aren’t right or wrong answers. This is genuinely an exercise to learn from their experiences and fresh perspective, and to make the organisation an even better place to work.


Here are some questions I suggest for the entrance interview:

  • What is unusual about this organisation? Here we’re trying to get at the unique attributes, both positive and negative.
  • What’s exciting about working here? These are the aspects that could motivate and engage our people.
  • What’s frustrating about working here? This allows us to identify potential impediments to performance.
  • What surprised you about the role? Surprises aren’t always bad, so we want to draw out both the positive and the negative. 
  • How would you describe the culture? What does it feel like to work here? Listen carefully to the words used and the extent to which they align with your desired culture.
  • What does it take to succeed here? What is rewarded? You might be surprised at what people see. You might think hard work is rewarded, but the new person sees friendships and connections as the way to get ahead. 


I think entrance interviews are a fantastic learning opportunity for leaders and organisations. They signal your interest in listening and improvement. Why not trial an entrance interview this week and let me know how you go.