Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love

What Leadership Needs to Consider Before Conducting Employee Interviews

February 22, 2024 Russel Lolacher Episode 139
Relationships at Work - Leadership Skills Guide to Create a Company Culture We Love
What Leadership Needs to Consider Before Conducting Employee Interviews
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, communications and leadership nerd (and host) Russel Lolacher asks us to consider employee interviews from the viewpoint of the employee and how a leader can help.

Onboarding interviews, Stay (or better yet, Thrive) Interviews and Exit Interviews are not always great experiences for the employee. And it has nothing to do with how productive they may or may not be but everything to do with their psychological safety, workplace culture and relationships. Russel will walk through the questions employees should ask themselves and their organization and the things we as leaders need to consider to set these interviews up for success. 

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Welcome back to Relationships At Work – the leadership mindset guide for creating a workplace we love.  I’m your host Russel Lolacher

I’m a communications and leadership nerd with a couple of decades of experience and a heap of curiosity on how we can make the workplace better. If you’re a leader trying to understand and improve your impact on work culture and the employee experience, you’re in the right place.
This mini-episode is a quick and valuable bit of information on top of our regular show.

So for our episode this week,  

Employee Interviews: The Good-Bye is as Important as the Hello

In any great organization, interviews are conducted along the employee journey - in the beginning (onboarding), frequent ones throughout our experience (commonly referred to as stay or as I coined calling them a couple of years ago: “thrive” interviews) and at the end (exit).

Ideally, these interviewers, these organizations have prepared them with intention and have them build off the previous one. They shouldn’t be siloed experience but rather connected to the conversations we’ve had before. 

I like to look at them as ways the organization isn’t just only checking in on the success of the employee but also a check-in on the organization’s success in fulfilling the promises they made in hiring that employee. What enticed them to apply and the opportunity they were promised on day one. 
 Side note – if that doesn’t sound like your organization but it is something you want to do as a leader, I created interview templates you can download for FREE off my website.

But let’s flip it and look at it from the employee side. Those being interviewed. And employees aren’t just front line staff… they are leaders, managers, team members, colleagues…. Doesn’t matter. 

It’s important to understand those interviews from the point of view of the interviewee, not just from the “thou shalt” of the organization and the interviewer. Empathy. Compassion. Those old chestnuts. 

For example, I recently had a conversation with a friend about to leave their organization. They had just been approached about doing an exit interview. Their response, “they weren’t sure whether to do it or not.”

You would think it would be an automatic. You would think, of course they want to share their experience to help those after them and guide managers in how to be better. So, why would they hesitate? As leaders, we have to understand our impact, current and historical, and this is a great example.

Oh right, I should mention, this person was leaving a very toxic work culture. Weak leadership, unkept promises, manipulation, feeling undervalued… all the stuff we hate. 

So when the idea of an exit interview came up…it might be a great opportunity to provide their experience, some context for their exiting, a little truth to power, all to help the organization learn from their mistakes and grow so to foster better future relationships with employees... right? 


Well, the reason this employee was hesitant in conducting this offered exit interview was because nothing they had ever seen or experienced to that point as an employee gave them any confidence that anything they would say in that exit interview would matter. It was a check box for the company. It was a “so we could say we did” exercise. Not a catalyst or instrument for self-awareness or organizational change. 

So of course she was hesitant. It would be a waste of time for everyone. And be one more failure to experience for her.

So this got me thinking about how we come to these conclusions as employees. And how we as leaders can understand how to put our best foot forward.

As an employee, when these interviews are offered, the questions we should consider are:

·       Who is conducting the interview? - What is my relationships with them? Can I trust them? Do they provide a safe space? 

·       Who is going to see the results? - Will it hurt my career depending on who it is? Are they a safe space or is it going into a void of indifference? 

·       How will the information be used? – Do they have a plan or a process? Will it be used at all?

·       How has information from other interviews been used in the past? – this is where we’re looking for concrete examples. Otherwise, why bother? 

·       For Stay/Thrive Interviews: How are they using this interview to support previous interviews, including my onboarding?

·       For Exit Interviews: Can you provide information on how my departure will be communicated internally and externally?

Now if those are the questions an employee is asking before they take the interview, what questions do we as leaders need to ask in preparation for them?

-       What is the quality of the interviewer’s relationship with the interviewee? 

-       What do we do with the results? 

-       Can we point to any change that has happened based on previous results? If no, why not. If yes, is it realistically something we can point to as a success or something we need to work on?

-       How do these results connect to previous interview results with this employee? Do we have that process or those mechanisms in place? 

Everyone is responsible this valuable interview data. But there is a lot more to consider than just the interview. It’s the context, the environment, and actions/inactions around the data. 

The employer is hopefully taking the right steps to collect needed information to support the employee journey, but remember it is the employee who is the one on that journey.

We need to empower and support our employees in understanding the who, what, how and why of these interviews. And to demonstrate that their experience and voice, matter. 

If we don’t, we’re wasting their time and an amazing opportunity to do better as an organization.