New Hire IT Onboarding Process: Avoid These 5 Mistakes

We have already talked about what should be the ideal onboarding process for an IT beginner and not only. If you haven’t read our text, I highly recommend it, as we did a comprehensive analysis there, talked to many experts, and compiled a list of best practices that you should use in the onboarding process and that you should pay attention to if you yourself are one of those onboarding is running.

IT Experts We Talked to About Onboarding

IT Experts We Talked to About Onboarding

Today we have very similar analytical work. The fact is that last time we asked experts about what practices are best for onboarding, but this time, we asked them a simple question - what is the best thing to avoid, in your opinion, what kind of signal a beginner should receive in order to be clear that onboarding is inefficient and some changes are needed to join the team and the company.

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Newbie Pressure

The very first feeling of a person who has just joined a new team is not a sense of pride that he/she has become the very candidate who was chosen, and not even a feeling of fear in front of such a huge amount of information, but pressure from the outside. It is logical that the team wants to quickly teach the newcomer everything that is necessary for work - corporate culture and ethics, the technologies they use, and the algorithms that they adhere to during work, because of which, even without wanting to, they create additional pressure on the newcomer.

Such pressure interferes with the learning process, interferes with concentration, and generally prevents you from feeling mentally healthy. I myself know from my own experience that such pressure does not allow you to sleep at night, and before general meetings in Zoom, your hands are shaking and you cannot explain the reason for this. All this happens because of pressure, because of the desire of the team or management to quickly turn the newcomer into a working unit.

24 Shocking Employee Onboarding Statistics

24 Shocking Employee Onboarding Statistics. Highly Recommend to Read (source)

A beginner needs to get rid of this as much as possible:

  1. Do not break the pace of mastering new information (do not rush if the material and new information are absorbed more slowly than the team expected).
  2. Prepare additional materials that a beginner can optionally read in his spare time to speed up the onboarding process (most often this is documentation or additional literature).
  3. Extension of probationary period (but not as a punishment, but as an extension of the period during which the rookie status will be - "learning" so that the team does not have questions like - "he/she is no longer a rookie, why is he/she asking such stupid questions?" ).
  4. Explain and make it clear to the beginner that it is normal not to understand and not know something (otherwise the beginner will just be nervous and curse oneself for sticking his head in here, which obviously will not increase his productivity).

Information Waterfall

Any onboarding is an information waterfall, a stream of endless information that you need to know by heart, understand the basics, or just need to understand. That is why such a waterfall must be limited and, conditionally, put a hydroelectric power station in front of the waterfall (a great metaphor, I'm kind of proud of it).

Onboarding Thread on Reddit I Recommend to Read

Onboarding Thread on Reddit I Recommend to Read (source)

The information must be presented in a dosed and very clear way, without extending to related or similar topics, this only misleads and confuses. For example, there was onboarding in my life, during which in one hour I was told how the engine of the company's main software is built, how the database is arranged, what user information we store, and how the project is monetized. In one hour! These are at least 4-5 topics that should be told at different times and not mixed in one bowl.

Clearly share what you want to tell the newcomer. If for you this is a logical narrative and quite obvious things, then for a person who has been working with you for less than a week, this is just a set of facts from which a beginner will not get any benefit. In short, here are the main steps:

  1. Sort the information you want to convey (just like sorting garbage. I hope you sort garbage)
  2. As soon as a fact has been voiced, illustrate it with an example (use all types of memory, including visual).
  3. Provide the beginner with only the information that is necessary to start work for the first time (everything else will come and be remembered over time).

Questions without Answers

The experts we spoke to came to the conclusion that if a newbie has unanswered questions at the end of the day, then the onboarding process is unsuccessful. Convey and explain to the beginner that the onboarding process is primarily learning, and learning is a two-way work, during which it is important not only to explain new information and show how it works with examples but also to clearly understand which of this information is not clear to the beginner because we are all different and perceive new information differently.

During my onboarding (one of many and the first), this idea was not conveyed to me. There was no dialogue between me and the team that conducted this onboarding. I didn’t ask the right questions, I felt pressure from the team, and therefore the onboarding process was as hard and unproductive as possible. My questions accumulated, and I myself was not able to get answers to them. Of course, it was my fault - excessive closeness, but after all, the task of the team during onboarding is to eliminate this closeness.

It is difficult to advise something specific in this case, because the solution to this problem is simply well-built communication, but I still have a few thoughts:

  1. Introduce the practice of creating a file with questions for a beginner. Show the newbie from the very beginning that the accumulated questions should be asked in a general chat or on a Zoom call. It is important to show this from the very beginning, from the first day of onboarding, so that in 2-3 weeks it becomes a habit.
  2. If the answer to the question can be found in a corporate Wikipedia (like "Confluence"), then it's best to send a newbie to look for answers to questions there, on their own. So the learning process will be more effective because when you search for answers on your own, the probability of remembering this information is higher than when you were provided with a ready-made answer.

Building clear Boundaries

Building clear boundaries within a team or company as a whole is something to avoid. Now I will explain what I mean. Very often, especially in large companies, an entire department, team, or individual expert is engaged in employee onboarding. This team is called the staff training team. These people are responsible for what knowledge a beginner has received, what he/she has learned, and what he has not understood. And if a beginner has questions, some material is not clear, or it is not clear why you need to know this at all (as it often happens), the beginner is sent to such a team, and not to a specialist who specializes in this issue.

Onboarding Meme - The Simposons

Onboarding Meme - The Simposons

I will give an example to make it clearer. For example, your company is developing an online tool for SEO analysis of a web page, and you have received a technical engineer position in it and are going through the onboarding process. You have a question - how does the formation of dashboards come, on the basis of what data and datasets are calculations performed? It is quite logical to address this question to a data analyst or data science specialist, but you are sent to the onboarding team and said - "ask them and do not interfere with work".

This approach is inefficient and, most importantly, is a sign of a bad and wrong corporate culture. The system should be built in such a way that even a beginner has the opportunity to ask a question to any specialist and talk to anyone in the team and company with whom he/she wants. To avoid the situation I gave an example, the following steps may be helpful:

  1. Making contact lists for the newbie (numbers, Slack nicknames, etc.) that he or she can contact and get help.
  2. Familiarization of a newcomer with the general scheme of the company (departments, teams, etc.), with what they do, what they are responsible for in the company, and who works there, in order to ask the right people questions the first time.

Additional Material

I will say right away and honestly, this item was unexpected for me and I would never have included it in this article, but the opinion of the experts interviewed is completely different, which was curious for me. One of the onboarding pitfalls they told me about is that the newbie is overburdened with additional materials like books, articles, or courses.

For me, this is the norm, because I am constantly learning, but in fact, it makes little sense. As I already wrote, for a beginner, the process of learning in a new environment is a lot of stress and excessive workload in their free time, for example, books or courses, only aggravate this stress and pressure, because the beginner will have a clear realization that he/she does not also know that he/she got the position due to banal luck, because of which a clear impostor syndrome will develop.

Here it was difficult to advise personally from me, but here is a small list of tips from the experts I interviewed:

  1. Additional materials can be used for training outside of working hours, but only if desired (if a beginner wants faster professional growth and awareness).
  2. Study materials don't have to be complicated. It shouldn't be quantum physics or a few volumes of complex literature on computer networks, but light reading, such as business correspondence rules or a documentary.


In this article, I tried to bring you the main mistakes that you should avoid when conducting onboarding, which we talked about with experts from different areas of IT and their positions. I also want to note that this article is written not only for those who conduct onboarding but primarily for the beginners who go through this onboarding. The fact is that when you know what you want, you know what to require. Now you know what kind of high-quality onboarding you want and what it should be built from, which means you understand what to demand from this onboarding.


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