When I joined Surevine my onboarding experience was fantastic, but I wanted to see if there was anything more we could do to make it even better, so back in June I asked twitter what would a great onboarding experience look like?

As always the responses were great. This post summarises what I learned:

Onboarding starts way before a person joins a company

If someone wants to work with you, they will be thinking about it way before onboarding starts. When people are looking for a new job, they want to know what a company is like to work for, almost as much as the salary and perks. No one wants to work somewhere that’s not going to motivate them or make them miserable. Sharing how you work as a company gives candidates an insight into the sort of organisation you are, and whether they might want to work there. Blogs and videos about how you work and publishing your company handbook on the web are great ways to provide that.

Interviews are an important part of building a great experience. All too often it’s forgotten that interviews are a two-way process. The candidate is assessing your company too. If they don’t like what they see, they won’t accept, and worse still they’ll pass on their experience to their peers. At Surevine we try to make interviews as realistic as possible, but fun too. We run “Day in the life” interviews, a chance for a candidate to show how they would work with the team on a real-world scenario. The whole team then gets to know the candidate and see what they can bring to the team in a real practical sense. Most importantly, it gives the candidate a real insight into how we work that traditional interviews do not.

Finally, as Josh Abbot points out, all too often someone is successful and offered a job, and then they hear nothing but silence whilst they work off their notice, sometimes for months. This can be really disconcerting, so make sure to keep in regular contact. Use the time to introduce other people in the company to the new person in a way that’s pressure-free and without expectation, they don’t work for you yet!

Make sure you use the time to get the new person setup on all the systems they will use, there is nothing more disheartening than starting a new role and not be able to access anything.

The first day

There was so much good advice given on making the first day a success. Luke R suggested making the first day a Wednesday to reduce the cognitive load of the first week, and to ensure they you aren’t distracted by the inevitable Monday interruptions:

A strong trend was people wanted to know what the companies history, mission and strategy was and how they contributed to it, this was the most overriding theme in the feedback:

This was closely followed by more pragmatic advice such as, where can I get good coffee, how do I communicate with my team, what are the unwritten rules of the company, and where are the toilets!

A great template for sharing the important day to day stuff with new starters is Sarah Carter’s induction trello board. I’ve borrowed this board a number of times, including at Surevine, and it saves me so much time remembering to collate the useful but small information that gets forgotten about once you have been somewhere more than a couple of weeks.

Each new person can make their own copy and refer back to it over time, and it can get constantly refined and improved based on feedback. I couldn’t recommend it enough. In fact, if you want good advice on anything recruitment or people based follow Sarah!

Buddying up

There were a lot of suggestions to give people a buddy. Sometimes it can be intimidating asking questions of your direct report, even if you try to make it not the case. Having a buddy gives the new person someone they can ask the ‘stupid questions’ without fear of looking or feeling stupid. It helps them to get to know another face in the company too and to get a perspective that they may not get from you. It’s a great way to develop existing peoples leadership skills too.

Spending time with the team was high on the list, giving the team and the new candidate the chance to bond and get to know each other is really important. Going out for lunch together on the first day or week is a great way to form relationships without the distractions of the office.

I hope this post is useful if you are looking to improve your hiring processes, happily most of the suggestions were already implemented at Surevine, but we have made some changes based on the feedback to help improve our onboarding experience.