First Impressions

June 07, 2019

Over the past few weeks, several of my client conversations have focused on the on-boarding process.  Whether on-boarding a new employee, a summer intern or even a volunteer, first impressions matter.  Often times, organizations spend lots of time and energy on the recruiting process (which is vital), and once the person is hired, they are relieved and return to business as usual.  It is important to remember that the hiring process is just beginning!  What you do next may make all the difference.

The candidate said yes…now what?

Once you have identified the ideal person for your open position/internship/volunteer role, take a few minutes to send that person a note or email.  Tell the person how excited you are that they will be joining your team and what it was about that person that stood out to you in the selection process.  Perhaps they shared a funny story, have a unique skillset or attended your alma mater.  Let that person know you were listening and you are looking forward to working with them in this role.  This may also be an opportunity to identify a few upcoming milestones; for example, tell the person may get an email from the benefits team about benefits eligibility and enrollment.  Sending this type of message positively reinforces the person’s decision to join your organization.

Details, details

There is an old saying, “The devil is in the details.”  Before the new person begins, consider all of their needs:  Where will they sit?  Does the person need a laptop?  Will they have access to a printer?  Do they need a landline?  Mailbox?  What will they need to bring with them on their first day?  License/ID? Bank account information for direct deposit?  Will you be communicating this information or will Human Resources?  Be sure you have all of these details arranged prior to the person’s first day.  You may want to consider sending one additional communication the day before, indicating what time they should arrive, providing details about transportation/parking, dress code, what to bring, etc.  You may also include a high-level itinerary for the first day (see below) so they know what to expect. 


The new person’s first day is just around the corner!  Put together a brief itinerary for the day.  Consider assigning a “buddy” for the new person – someone they can ask anything (What is the bathroom code again?  How do I use the copier?).  Also, don’t be afraid to build in some “down time”, as you don’t want the new person to feel overwhelmed.  Here is a sample itinerary:

9:00 – Welcome and breakfast in the conference room (informal gathering for team)

10:00 – 1:1 Meeting with supervisor (review job responsibilities, provide reading materials, discuss assignments)

10:30 – 12:00 – Individual meetings with each team member

12:00 – Team lunch

1:00 – Meeting with HR

1:30 – Solo time

3:00 – Meeting with buddy

3:30 – Check-in with supervisor (discuss schedule for rest of week)

4:00 – Departure

If you have hired more than one person (for example, you have a group of interns), you may want to modify the schedule to ensure the group has time to get to know one another, etc.  Be sure you have the rest of the week planned out as well, which includes providing the person with meaningful assignments as soon as possible.


Towards the end of the first week, schedule a meeting with the new person to answer questions and establish some short and longer-term goals.  This will help ensure that responsibilities are clear and expectations are established.  Over the course of the first few months, make sure you have regular meetings/touch points with the new person, which will help keep things on track and provide an opportunity to course-correct if needed. 

Bringing a new person into your organization requires thought, planning and extra time.  Show the person they are important by being enthusiastic, thoughtful and prepared.  If you make the effort to invest in this person, the investment will pay dividends in the long run.