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One study found that employees with an exceptional onboarding experience are 2.6 times more likely to be extremely enamored and satisfied with their place of work.

Even without that stat, we all know that onboarding is a big deal. Kicking off employees’ journeys in the proper fashion is like the warm-up act before the main event, making sure everyone feels ready to rock the workplace.

Here's how to design an effective onboarding questionnaire and 24 example questions you can use in your own onboarding surveys.

What's the Purpose of an Onboarding Survey?

Onboarding surveys give you insight into the way new hires perceive your organization, where you can improve, and what's attracting talent to you in the first place.

By creating a good, comprehensive onboarding survey, you:

  • Measure the efficacy of your onboarding program
  • Make new hires feel welcomed and valued
  • Communicate a culture of continuous improvement
  • Determine the clarity of role and company expectations
  • Learn what needs to be improved from the end user's perspective

Why Are Onboarding Surveys Important?

By asking new hires specific, standardized questions about your onboarding process, you gain insights into how your current process is working and, more importantly, what needs to be improved.

Here are some areas in which onboarding surveys can help you improve:

  • Nailing your recruitment process. Identify where you can make improvements to address clarity, transparency, and the overall candidate experience. 
  • Understanding training effectiveness. Gauge how well employees perceive the training content, delivery methods, and overall relevance to their new roles.
  • Enhancing employee engagement. Determine potential disengagement triggers and take proactive measures to address them.
  • Alignment with company values and culture. Highlight the fit of your new starters to ensure a strong foundation for long-term success and satisfaction across the board. 
  • Employer brand. Understand and measure the influence of your brand’s first impression. This is reflected in how you attract new hires and what encourages them to join your merry band of workers.
  • Work environment and wellbeing. Establish whether your organizational values and work environment align and if they promote a positive and inclusive atmosphere.

Pro move: Use recruiting software to automate and streamline your hiring framework, reducing your time-to-hire and maximizing candidate quality.

24 Onboarding Survey Questions

Here are 24 examples of employee onboarding survey questions. Don't be afraid to customize these to fit your current goals within your onboarding process.

The questions are broken up into the following 7 categories:

I've included two types of questions, which can either be answered on a rating scale or in a free response.

  1. Rating scale questions get the employee to note the degree to which these statements reflect their agreement or opinion.
  2. Free-response questions ask the employee to provide their thoughts on a specific topic.

Recruitment and Onboarding 

Rating scale questions (1-10)

  1. How would you rate the clarity and transparency of the hiring process? [Rating scale]

To assess the effectiveness of the recruitment process and identify areas of improvement.

  1. Please rate your level of engagement and satisfaction with the onboarding process. [Rating scale]

To understand employee satisfaction levels during the onboarding period and if the job description matches the role.

  1. How confident do you feel in using our product or service after completing the onboarding process? [Rating scale]

To evaluate the effectiveness of onboarding new hires and equip them with the knowledge and confidence to use the product or service.

  1. How would you rate the overall onboarding experience? [Rating scale]

To gain an understanding of the onboarding experience as a whole. 

  1. What additional resources or information would have helped you during the onboarding process? [Free-response]

To pick up any gaps in the current onboarding materials and gather feedback on the additional resources that would enhance participants’ understanding and proficiency.

  1. What improvements or changes would you suggest to enhance the onboarding experience? [Free-response]

To collect specific recommendations on how you can optimize your onboarding process. 

  1. Is there anything else you would like to share about your onboarding experience? [Free-response]

To provide users with an opportunity to share any additional feedback, suggestions, or concerns that may not have been covered by previous questions.

Training 

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how well does the training align with your role and responsibilities? [Rating scale]

To evaluate the relevance of your onboarding training program. 

Engagement 

  1. Since the time I joined the company, I rarely think about joining anywhere else. [Rating scale]

To find out how happy employees are—which has a direct impact on employee retention rates. 

  1. I often receive feedback from my manager on assigned tasks. [Rating scale]

To establish if new employees receive the feedback they need to help acclimatize in your workplace and improve their skills.

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Alignment 

  1. I understand how my role supports the values and aims of the organization. [Rating scale]

To learn how new hires see their position in your organization and company culture. 

  1. I believe my ideas are valued. [Rating scale]

To sense if employees feel like part of the team.

Employer Brand 

  1. How did our employer brand influence your decision to join our organization? [Rating scale]

To understand the brand impact on attracting new hires and what convinced newbies to join your team.

  1. Has your experience with the organization so far aligned with the employer brand that was communicated during the hiring process? [Rating scale]

To assess the consistency between your perceived employer brand and the actual employee experience.

  1. What aspects of our employer brand stood out to you during the recruitment process? [Free-response]

To identify the specific elements that attracted them to your workplace.

  1. What do you think makes our organization unique as an employer? [Free-response]

To understand the key differentiators from the perspective of new employees.

Work Environment and Wellbeing 

  1. How would you rate the work environment in terms of collaboration, inclusivity, and support? [Rating scale]

To assess the outlook of your work environment—such as inclusivity, diversity, and equality, and the level of support you provide. 

  1. Rate how you feel our organization prioritizes employee well-being and work-life balance. [Rating scale]

To understand if your company policies, initiatives, and practices promote a clear understanding of supporting work-life balance and employee wellness. 

  1. How does the work environment align with the employer brand that was communicated? [Rating scale]

To assess whether your organization successfully delivers on the promises and values portrayed from the first day.

Remote Working Environment

  1. How would you rate the effectiveness of communication tools and platforms provided for remote work? [Rating scale]

To assess the adequacy and efficiency of the communication tools available, which are crucial in a remote setting.

  1. How effective do you find the virtual meetings in terms of productivity and engagement? [Rating scale]

To assess the efficiency and engagement level of virtual meetings, which are a core aspect of remote work.

  1. How well do you feel integrated with your team in the remote working environment? [Rating scale]

To gauge the employee's sense of belonging and integration with the team, which can be challenging in a remote setup.

  1. What improvements, if any, would you suggest for our remote training and development programs? [Free-response]

To obtain constructive feedback on training programs and identify gaps or areas needing enhancement.

  1. Are there any tools or resources you feel are missing or inadequate for your role in the remote work environment? [Free-response]

To identify any gaps in the tools or resources provided, which are essential for effective remote work.

Onboarding Survey Best Practices

Follow these best practices to help you get meaningful and actionable feedback about your onboarding initiatives.

Get Clear on the Purpose

Being clear on what you want to achieve or improve within your onboarding process needs to be your first step. It'll help you frame the right questions and pull the information you need.

Keep it Short 

Your questions should be concise and focused—a maximum of 10 questions per survey is ideal. 

Keeping it short increases response rates and ensures you collect both relevant and actionable onboarding feedback. 

Utilize Different Question Types

Incorporating rating scales allows for quantitative analysis, while open-ended questions allow respondents to express their thoughts freely and provide suggestions for improvement.

Use a mix of both to create a balanced approach that'll help you capture both detailed and structured feedback. 

Pick The Right Time

Step into your new employee's shoes for a minute and consider when you'd have the freshest feedback for each group of questions.

For example, recruitment-related questions are best answered as soon as the new employee is hired, whereas work environment questions are best saved until they've settled into their role a bit more.

Communicate the Why 

To increase response rates and the quality of feedback, be sure to explain to participants why you’ve created the survey and how it benefits them and the business as a whole. 

You’ll find that this clarification makes it far more likely people will respond and be more engaged while they’re doing so.

Anonymity or Not?

It’s your call whether you request participant names.

Doing so makes it easier to follow up, but respondents might be less candid in their responses. My advice would be to offer anonymity but also the chance to add their details for a follow-up.

Use the Right Tools

Make your life easier by designing and distributing your survey using the right employee survey tools.

When you make it easy for them to fill in, it’s more likely they will. 

Communicate Survey Findings

When you share findings and the actions you’ve taken as a result of them, you influence buy-in for any changes and demonstrate that surveys at your organization are worth completing.

Generating Onboarding Questions with ChatGPT

Yep, you read that right. I've been finding ChatGPT to be an excellent assistant in the ideation process for tasks like this.

Here are 3 ChatGPT prompts to gather additional questions for your onboarding surveys.

Just copy and paste the prompts that follow, one at a time, to get some fresh ideas.

Step 1: Create a Persona

I always find it helpful to tell GPT who I want it to represent before I start, so it can properly frame the context of its answers. Copy and paste the below prompt to kick things off.

Prompt 1

You're an experienced HR leader teaching me everything you know about being a great people operations manager.

You know the best practices for the position and aren't afraid to reject historical norms of how things "should be" done if they aren't overtly helpful.

Right now, you're leveraging your expertise to help me build useful employee onboarding surveys. We will be hiring these employees for [remote/hybrid/in-office] roles.

Confirm that you understand my request by telling me more about your persona.

Step 2: Give Additional Context

This step is optional but I find it helpful.

GPT can struggle with giving blanket statements and generalities. To get around this, give GPT more context on your company. This could include:

  • Type of employees you're looking to attract
  • Your specific state/country
  • Your industry
  • Role(s) you want to fill
  • Growth phase of your company
  • Any situational information about your company you deem important

Prompt 2

My company is in the [your industry] industry, operating out of [Country/State]. We are currently in a [linear growth/exponential growth/maintenance] phase of our business and looking for employees to fill [target role(s)] position(s).

Confirm that you understand my request by telling me what you know about my business.

Step 3: Ask for Specific Questions

Great, we've set the stage. Now for the good stuff.

I find it helpful to ask for specific questions about certain topics, one at a time, to force GPT to dive deep on each, rather than skimming the surface of all of them.

Prompt 3

Please come up with 10 specific, poignant onboarding survey questions about [topic you want survey questions about] and include the following information for each one:

  • The question to include
  • Whether this question should be answered using a rating scale (ie. how much do you agree on a scale of 1-5) or a free-response text box
  • The purpose of the question

Assume that these questions are being asked 1 month after the employee has started working at the company.

Having GPT Troubles?

If you find you're not getting useful results, you have two options:

  1. Add more information about your company - such as the specific problems you're facing within your onboarding process - in Step 2 to get clear on what you want to achieve. Don't assume that it can read between the lines.
  2. Join our members-only Slack community to discuss your problems with other People Ops leaders who have faced the same thing. Oh, and I'll be there too!

If you combine GPT's idea generation with your organizational research, you'll have useful questions for new employees in no time.

Additional Ways to Measure and Improve Onboarding

While feedback surveys are a powerful tool for understanding employees' experiences, they are not (nor should they be) the sole method for measuring and improving the onboarding experience. 

Here are additional ways to enhance onboarding new employees:

  • Checking voluntary employee turnover rates: if they’re on the high side among new starters, a better onboarding process can help. 
  • Looking at time-to-productivity rates: measure this KPI by working out the number of days it takes new hires to become productive, then divide this number by the total number of new employees in a time period. Short rates are great news and show that your onboarding processes are effective at getting new hires up to speed. 
  • Questioning if new hires are implementing their training: if they’re not completing or implementing the required new job training, it’s time to check in and review if you’ve allocated enough training time in the orientation process
  • Continuously iterate the onboarding process: Establishing a feedback loop helps review your onboarding processes regularly and address any identified issues quickly. Encourage managers and human resources teams to collaborate and share insights to make onboarding even better over time. 
  • Introducing structured feedback sessions: conduct one-on-one or group feedback sessions with new employees in the first week at least. Encourage in-depth discussions and provide an opportunity to express their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions.
  • Providing mentoring and buddy programs: Pairing new employees with experienced mentors or buddies helps them navigate your organization, fosters relationships, and gives them access to an unofficial support system during their first month or so.
  • Implementing exit interviews: On the other end of the hiring spectrum, you have those who are leaving. Exit interviews tell you about unexpressed views or employee feedback that other team members may share.  
  • Use technology: Tools such as onboarding software can help with assigning tasks, tracking progress, sharing resources, and conducting surveys. You'll be able to take advantage of onboarding automation to automatically send surveys at the right moment.

You're Ready to Onboard!

If you don’t have an onboarding survey as part of your process, it’s time to create one.

You'll be able to identify:

  • What's working and what needs to be improved,
  • Where your new hires need more support, and
  • What kind of reputation your company has with potential candidates.

So what are you waiting for? Use these best practices and sample questions, and get to work!

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Finn Bartram
By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.