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HR Advice: The Benefits of Return to Work Interviews


Return to work interviews are held upon an employee returning to work from an absence. In these scenarios, the employee could have been absent from work for reasons such as illness.

The purpose of a return to work interview is to confirm the details surrounding the employee’s absence and smoothly transition them back into their work responsibilities.

How do I conduct an effective return to work interview?

The following steps are a guideline to conducting an effective return to work interview:

  • Welcome the individual back to work: Starting with a positive remark goes a long way for setting the tone of the conversation. This interview should be positive, and if the employee was away for medical reasons, the employer can see if they are really well enough to return to work.
  • Provide relevant updates: Since the employee has missed work, they may be unaware of important updates that have taken place in the company. The return to work interview is a great opportunity to bring the employee up to speed on relevant company updates or information pertaining to their work.
  • Build a plan: This step is typically dependent on the length of time the employee was out of office. If the employee only missed a couple of days it may not be necessary; however, if they were absent for a week or more a plan to ease them back into their role may be appreciated.

A high volume of work could have accumulated in the employee’s absence, and prioritizing which tasks should be addressed first can prevent stress and anxiety.

  • Confirm absence record: Employers should always confirm the dates of the employee’s absence, to ensure there is no confusion by either party. This step is crucial to avoid a dispute in the future over details of the absence.
  • Leave time for questions: Saving time for the employee to ask any questions they may have, ensures everyone leaves the interview clear on next steps.