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Workforce Planning Interview Questions: How to Gather Information

January 30, 2019 by Josh Hrala

One of the first steps of any workforce planning initiative is to gather information about your current staff members to help paint an accurate picture of what your workforce looks like. To do this, you should send a list of workforce planning interview questions to your managers so that they can collect the correct information from their teams.

By spreading out of the information gathering to extend to your managers, you – the HR leader – can focus on the HR department while you receive the data you need from the rest of the organization.

So what workforce planning interview questions should you list?

It largely depends on your organization. No two workforce planning initiatives are the same because businesses have different goals. However, there are a few that are pretty universal, which we will explore below.

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First, though, let’s have a quick refresher on what workforce planning is and why it’s important.

What Is Workforce Planning?

Workforce planning, in simplified terms, is the act of aligning your talent with your business goals. You need to ensure that you have the right people performing the right jobs to make sure that your business is marching steadily toward success.

To do this, you need to have a firm understanding of what your talent pool looks like, what needs you have, and how your business may change in the future.

Though this sounds like a no-brainer – of course you want to have the right talent to meet your goals – the process can seem incredibly hard to those that have never performed it before. In fact, many organizations say that workforce planning is one of their top priorities and also one of their biggest burdens because they keep putting it off.

Workforce Planning Interview Questions

What this means for you is that if you were to start workforce planning right now, you’d have a leg up on your competition (for the most part). And, with a plan on paper and some easy to use tools to back you up, the process really becomes quite easy.

With all of that background detail out of the way, let’s start to explore the workforce planning interview questions to help you get started with one of the first steps of the process.

If you want to learn more about the whole workforce planning process, you can read our complete guide here.

Workforce Planning Interview Questions: Gathering Data About Your Current Staff

Like we said in the introduction, one of the very first steps of any workforce planning process is to gather a ton of information about your current workforce to help you better understand what skills your workers have, what your overall competencies are, and where you can start to implement a development plan.

To do this, we highly recommend using a workforce planning template. You can make your own in Excel or Google Sheets (really any spreadsheet app) to help you keep track of this information. If you’d like to use ours, you can download it here:

Download Our Workforce Planning Template!

The goal of a template is to allow your managers to collect data on their own. They will be filling out this sheet and sending it back to HR as well as keeping a copy for themselves so that they can continuously make changes when they need to.

Here is some of the data that they will be collecting about employees:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Position
  • Department
  • Type of Position: full-time/part-time/contract
  • Tenure
  • Manager Name
  • Salary
  • Qualifications: degrees, experience, certificates, etc.
  • Skills: what skills do they have that are pertinent to their current role
  • Level of Competency (1-5): This should rate the above skills, ranging from beginner to expert
  • Potential Next Positions: Ask yourself what position this person may be promoted to in the future if they continue development
  • Years of Experience Needed for Promotion
  • Skills and Training: what core development training do they need to move up into a new position
  • Potential New Salary

As you can see, some of these points can be addressed without ever talking to a workers (salary, tenure, etc). However, we recommend interviewing the staff member because they will be able to identify what skills they bring to the table, what development plans they may need/want, and what hidden skills they may have.

So, you should always ask: “What skills do you use every day to complete your job responsibilities?” “What development training interests you or would help you complete your job responsibilities?” “Do you have any hobbies or skills that you currently do not use every day that you would like to?”

Workforce Planning Interview Questions

That last one is interesting. Sometimes you will find that your staff members have hidden skill sets and hobbies that they truly love and have become experts at. Keep this information in mind when you find a gap for certain projects. Not only can knowing about these skills save you money, but the worker will likely jump at an opportunity to showcase what they can do.

The interview will also help you verify what you already know to ensure everything is 100 percent correct. For example, you could have listed that the person has worked for the company for 5 years. However, in reality, they’ve been working for you as a freelancer for 5 more, bringing the total to 10 years experience within the company. It’s little things like this that can get ignored.

Workforce Planning Interview Questions: What to Ask Managers

While your managers will be the ones on the ground asking these questions and gathering most of the data for you, we recommend that you interview them as well, seeking the same knowledge that they are gathering about their staff members.

Also, you should ask them key questions to get an accurate depiction of your workforce. For example, ask them how many promotable employees they have in their department, how many new positions will open up this year, how many of those positions can we fill internally, what is the overall competency of your department?

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These questions are bit higher level, but they help you to understand what areas of the department may need work in the future. For example, you should always ask how many potential retirees the department has so that you can start creating a transition plan for when they step down from full-time work.

You will also need to find out what developmental practices can impact the department to help you promote internally instead of adding more headcount.

Workforce Planning Interview Questions: A Recap

The short of it all is that using a workforce planning template allows you to see what data you need to collect about your staff members to ensure that your workforce is aligning with your business goals.

To do this, we recommend allowing your managers to interview your staff members, making profiles for everyone at your company and then adding them together to create departmental profiles, which will be added – again – to the other departments to create a whole summation of the business.

Gathering this data is best done by asking pointed questions to the staff members and managers. When all is said and done, collecting this type of information isn’t all that hard and you’ll often times find it a bit fun because you start to understand how you can impact the organization with training, new hires, etc.

Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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