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Boomerang employees

Allowing "boomerang" employees to return to your company can potentially have a positive impact.

  • Reasons for rehiring

  • Questions to ask

In HR terminology, a boomerang employee is an employee who leaves a company and then returns to the same company at a later time. They may return to fill a similar role or a more senior one, based on the new skills and experience they have acquired working elsewhere.

Why do companies rehire boomerang employees?

Why do companies rehire boomerang employees?

As long as the employee left on good terms, rehiring an employee could be a good move for several reasons:

  • They have proven experience with the company 

  • It can be cost-effective to bring back an employee who has already been onboarded and trained

  • They may have increased their skills, talent, and experience while they were away

  • They will likely reintegrate quickly into the company, as opposed to new hires unfamiliar with your company culture

  • Your team may be happy to have the employee return, which can boost morale

What interview questions should you ask boomerang employees?

While your company can save costs by taking back a boomerang employee, you also want to exercise a certain amount of caution. It is important to make sure that the employee would continue to be a good fit for your organization and that they're unlikely to leave again soon. The company's circumstances may have also changed, including the expectations of the employee’s role. Before rehiring a prospective boomerang employee, make sure everyone is on the same page by asking the right questions.

Why did you leave the company?

Make sure there are no unresolved issues the employee has with your company. You also want to be sure the employee left on good terms and holds no ill will toward the company, their coworkers, or the management, to ensure the employee will ease back into the team.

Why do you want to return to the company?

Just like asking a potential candidate why they want to work for your company specifically, you can ask the returning employee why they want to return. They should be able to vocalize their interest and enthusiasm in returning to the company either in a new role or refilling their old position. This question can help you get insight into the employee’s motivations and career goals.

What have you been doing since leaving the company?

Learn where the employee has been since leaving the company and find out if they held similar positions where they could have continued using their skills. Similar to asking a potential new hire, you also want the candidate to be able to explain any gaps in employment. 

How have you developed your skills?

Rehiring the employee doesn’t mean they have to go back to the same position they previously held. The employee may be a good fit for a higher role than previously held if they bring something new to the table. At the same time, you want to make sure their existing skills haven't gotten rusty in their time away.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Does the employee show a desire to be a team player and help the company succeed over the next several years? Will bringing them back bring a return on the investment to the company? Hopefully, the employee’s career goals line up with the company’s goals for the future and they can be hired again to rejoin the team.

Next steps
If you're considering re-hiring a boomerang employee, ensure you:
  • Confirm that the individual has a positive work history and a track record of contributions.

  • Review the original exit interview to understand the reasons for their departure and, if necessary, address any concerns or issues.

  • Assess whether the employee still aligns with the current company culture. Changes may have occurred during their absence, and it's essential to ensure compatibility.

  • Leverage the familiarity the employee has with your organization's processes and workflows. Consider their updated skills and experience gained elsewhere during their absence.

  • Develop a thoughtful reintegration plan for the employee, including onboarding procedures, team introductions, and any necessary training to help them seamlessly transition back into your organization.

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