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New hire focus group questions & format

Speaking to recent hires candidly is a powerful way to get insights into your onboarding process.

A full overhaul of your onboarding process can be overwhelming. It’s easy to push down the list of priorities, especially when you don’t know where to start. Never fear! We’ve outlined the perfect starting place - a recent hire focus group - below. This small but mighty project takes just a few hours of work and rewards you with meaningful, actionable data.

1. Set a date and select participants. (30 minutes)

Shortlist 6-10 employees who’ve joined the company in the last year. The more recently they’ve joined the better! Ultimately, you’re aiming for 4-8 participants who’ll be available for the full 90-minute remote focus group.

2. Create a focus group survey form. (30 minutes)

I am a HUGE advocate of inclusive focus-group practices, which include the use of survey forms during the 90-minute session. This podcast episode breaks down the process: essentially, the group spends 30 minutes silently answering each of the focus group questions via an anonymous form.

Here are five questions to ask:

  1. What do you remember about your first week at (company name)?

  2. What did you find most helpful during your first few months on the job?

  3. What was most challenging during your first few months in the job?

  4. What do you know now, that you wish you would have known earlier?

  5. If you could change one thing about the onboarding process, what would it be?

The group will later come together to discuss the same questions, offering up what they feel comfortable disclosing. This format allows for the benefits of live discussion, along with a safe outlet for individuals to disclose thoughts they may not want to share out loud.

Not to mention, all of the findings are captured in writing!

3. Host the focus group. (90 minutes)

We strongly recommend hosting this remotely, unless you are a fully in-person culture. Having everyone on camera, in their own space, makes for a smoother experience than having some participants together in a room with others on video.

If this is your first time hosting a focus group, the podcast episode mentioned earlier outlines some great best practices.

4. Pick three actionable takeaways. (Varies)

The focus groups will likely provide a slew of information and inspiration for areas of improvement. Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, pick three takeaways that you can make meaningful progress on in a reasonable amount of time. Momentum is key at this point in the process. Early wins will motivate you to keep going and show the team that change is possible.

This brings us to the final, but incredibly important, step.

5. Close the loop with participants. (15 minutes)

Once you’ve made progress on your actionable takeaways, be sure to close the loop by sending a follow-up note to the focus group participants. Showing them the impact of their time and participation is a powerful way to ensure they continue providing helpful feedback.

Recently hired employees sit in a new hire focus group to evaluate the onboarding process

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