Here at Gather, we love using a broad range of ideas to find inspiration, no matter how outside of the box. We’ve whittled down our best collection of questions to ask your new employees, and what you can do with their answers.
Although connection in the office is largely organic, thoughtful onboarding questions can be used to speed up this process. Asking questions that go beyond a new hire’s work life sends a signal that you care about them as a whole person. Their answers can even spur a common connection that might otherwise go underdiscovered. Later on, their answers can be used as data to facilitate bonding activities or formation of clubs.
What holidays are important to you? Knowing which holidays are important to your employees can be a great way to build inclusivity. For example, avoiding scheduling a big luncheon on a day where some employees are fasting for ramadan.
T-Shirt Sizes. Use this info to have swag ready for them on the first day of work.
Dietary Restrictions. It’s a small way to show you know your employees well when you have food available at luncheons that accommodate an employee’s dietary restrictions.
If you’re a parent, how can we support you? This is a fantastic opportunity to show you care about the success of your employees in their work and home life. This question can prompt a longer conversation about flexibility with working parents.
What are your hobbies? Some companies have a club for just about every special interest. In fact, West Monroe has a club that gets together to decide which new hot sauces to buy for the office. Use this question as a launch pad for connecting employees through their hobbies!
Favorite Type of Coffee. Favorite Restaurant. Favorite Charity. Consider celebrating important work moments with a surprise coffee, lunch date with the team, or donation to their favorite charity.
What’s on your bucket list? On an important work anniversary or birthday, the company could help their employee achieve or work towards one of their bucket list items, such as a voucher for skydiving (more affordable than you’d expect⭐), or some gear to summit a mountain.
Love Language Assessment. The importance of love languages extends beyond romantic relationships. After a massive project or achievement, knowing a colleague's love language is an extremely effective way to know how to make them feel appreciated.
True Colors Personality Test. The True Colors test was designed to categorize people into four different learning styles, and provide insight into strengths and weaknesses of each style. Knowing which team members relate to which color can provide the group with insight into how they can work together better.
Display the Tests. Consider having a place in the office where people can display what their love language and ‘true colors’ are. This is a great way for employees to get a quick understanding of themselves and visually see where the rest of the team lies. At the end of a difficult project, these visuals come in handy when it’s time to thank the team.
Mind Map. Ask your new employee to draw a map of their mind and what they care and think about most. There are lots of online guides on how to do a mind map. However, vague instructions will yield a dramatically different approach from employee to employee, and this is great!
One caution: make sure these activities don't isolate any team members, especially if they’re the only one of a certain learning style or language. The activity should be used to provide general insight, not to box people into rigid categories.
If you could replace your arms with other objects for a week, what would you pick? Trust us, the answers to this question will blow you away. From jet packs, to baguettes (so they could eat their arms throughout the week), to snakes, to pillows… this question tells you much more about a person than one would expect.
What ‘Old Person Things’ are you looking forward to doing? Some answer with a lifelong dream of theirs, or with things they want to return to from childhood. Regardless, the answers are endearing.
What do you miss most about being a kid? A fun way to elicit what someone's first hobbies were, or to find out their favorite childhood snacks that they ate. For some of us at Gather, we miss eating an entire tub of Goldfish, and climbing trees to spy on the neighbors.
What’s the most useless talent you have? Maybe someone's perfect impression of Owen Wilson will come in handy at the holiday party! This question prompts people to share all sorts of fun things. The only time this has gone wrong is when a girl said she could do a handstand and then tried to show us and literally fell over in front of 70 people.
If you were a candy bar, what would you be? Why? In other words, what candy bar represents you best. This is a sweet one because at some point in the future, such as a work anniversary, you can buy the person the candy bar they said represents them.
20 Questions with the Team. Play 20 questions with the new employee, but also give the new employee to ask 20 questions to the team! There’s likely not time for every team member to answer 20 questions each, so instead have team members jump in to answer questions. Examples of questions the onboardee could ask the team could be:
‘Getting to Know You’ Slide. Consider asking employees to add a slide about themselves to a Google Slides, in which each team member has made a slide about themselves and fun facts from their lives.
‘Get to Know You’ Luncheon. Consider asking the employee to answer a list of questions and choose 3-5 to share at a team luncheon.
When putting together your onboarding check-in surveys, think about using some of the questions below. Research shows that using mixed-method questions (questions that ask for elaboration) provides the most actionable feedback. For example, “How would you rate your onboarding experience on a scale of 1-5? Next, explain why.”
One Week Check-In
Two Week Check-In
30 Day Check-In
60 Day Check-In
90 Day Check-In
Onboarding is a powerful tool to get to know your new hires and use that information to create a more inclusive environment. It’s also a chance to iterate on your company’s strengths and weaknesses based on the feedback you get.
For more get-to-know-you question inspiration, check out our list of icebreakers.