Pre-boarding vs Onboarding

HR Strategies to reduce No Shows.

We all know the story about the “one that got away”.  After months of searching through candidate sites, screening hundreds of resumes, conducting dozens of phone interviews and face to face meetings, the ideal candidate is finally agreed upon. 

According to Glassdoor “On average, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes. The typical employer will then interview 4–6 candidates for the job, and only one will be successful.”

Just a few days prior to start date, however, you receive that dreaded email – “Thanks but no thanks.”  What went wrong?  She was excited to start and seemed so keen to build her career with the company. 

Any number of issues could have arisen in the time between finding the candidate, making them an offer and the actual start date: better offer from a competitor; doubts regarding the decision to accept the position; or even that the current employer upped the salary and profile.  Perhaps it can be summed up with “too much time to rethink the offer before starting”. 

Is there a way to prevent or reduce the chances of this happening?  Maybe starting the candidate sooner, reducing the time between first interview and start date, would eliminate second thoughts or doubts from setting in, or better offers from being received. 

The HR team is responsible for engaging and cultivating a growing enthusiasm in the candidate about the imminent post.  How exactly can this be done?  Pre-boarding instead of On-boarding. Pre-boarding is way to welcome and prepare the new candidate to join the company before they actually start work thereby keeping them interested and engaged prior to the actual start date.

When you preboard a candidate, you take the opportunity to engage with them right away without waiting till their start date to initiate them into the company.

The distinctions between pre-boarding and onboarding are:

  • Preboarding starts and is completed before an employee’s first day. On-boarding starts on the employee’s first day
  • In addition to common on-boarding exercises, preboarding can include informal interactions between the company and the new hire.

For instance, on-boarding a new employee includes adding them to payroll, enrolling them in the benefits program, setting them up with a computer and email account, introductions to the team and briefing them on the employee handbook. This exercise is geared towards tidying up all the loose ends so the new hire can get right to work.  However, it is often a cause for delay in the employee hitting the ground running when they arrive.

Why not implement the on-boarding tasks during a preboarding process?  Your new hire can complete the enrolment formalities in the week(s) leading up to the first day.  This will save time when they come into the office and more importantly, the initial energy and enthusiasm, new hires have can be captured and channelled without any lag setting in.

Completing the new hire checklist is not the only preboarding function. You can use the time to make the ready-to-start employee feel welcome and a part of the team and culture. An early and warm inclusion will go far in ridding the newcomer of any uncertainty they feel and enhancing their speedy start and heightening their buzz when they come in for day one.

For example, your preboarding process can consist of asking your new hire to complete important forms and sending a company-wide introductory email. Everyone can respond with a personalized welcome so the new hire can build a rapport with their co-workers right away. Other purposes of preboarding would be to prevent ambivalence in your candidate and to lay the ground work for day one.

Treating the future employee as if s/he is already a part of the team before they start work will help prevent no-shows and set them up to hit the ground running on day one.


What is the difference between preboarding and onboarding? | Typelane

Onboarding vs Preboarding: Different Ways to Welcome a New Employee | Recruiterbox

Tips for Effectively Preboarding New Hires | Recruiterbox

How Employee Preboarding Is Different From Onboarding? – Recruiter’s blog (

2021 HR Statistics: Job Search, Hiring, Recruiting & Interviews (