What Is a Skip-Level Meeting? (And How to Prepare for One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 27, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Skip-level interviews constitute a leadership approach that an organization's top management may use to understand employees' work experience. These meetings also provide opportunities for both parties to gain insight into the other person's role and exchange information that might be of value to the organization. Learning more about this type of meeting can help you prepare for and gain full advantage of them. In this article, we define what a skip-level meeting is, discuss its importance, and list steps on how to prepare for one.

What is a skip-level meeting?

A skip-level meeting is a conversation between an employee and the manager of their direct supervisor, who isn't present during the interview. The objective of this type of meeting is usually to enable a senior-level manager to obtain insight into the company's operations from an employee's perspective. The meeting also allows employees to ask relevant questions that may help them improve their work performance and achieve their career goals.

Skip-level interviews take place in person or virtually, and the senior manager often conducts them confidentially. In some cases, the employee's direct supervisor may arrange the meeting, while in others, the senior manager initiates it to gather feedback from a team member. A skip-level interview typically lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.

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Importance of skip-level interviews for employees

Skip-level interviews are important in an organization's management and operations. They help to improve communication between employees and senior management and foster a positive work environment. They also provide insight that helps organizations make informed decisions that can increase employee productivity. Skip-level interviews are also important to you as an employee for these reasons:

Expands your knowledge about the organization

A skip-level interview enables you to learn more about the organization by allowing you to ask questions about the company's operations. You can learn about the organization's structure, culture, and business goals and how your role contributes to achieving these objectives. It's also a chance to learn more about the senior manager's role in the organization. You can then apply the information you've gathered from the meeting to improve your performance and advance your career.

Related: How to Build a Collaborative Team in an Organization

Gives you the opportunity to provide feedback

A skip-level interview is a great opportunity to provide feedback, share suggestions for improvements with a senior manager, and present ideas that may impact the organization positively. It allows you to voice your opinions about the company's operations, which may help management make necessary changes. As an employee, you can use this opportunity to improve your work environment and contribute to the company's success.

Related: How to Give Feedback Constructively in the Workplace

Allows you to provide insight to management

Skip-level interviews provide management with insight to which they may not have access because of the hierarchical nature of the organization. As employees are on the frontline of an organization, many have a unique perspective that is often invaluable to senior leaders. You can help management make better decisions about the company's operations by asking questions and sharing your observations during the meeting. You can also help them understand how employees feel about their work and the company.

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Helps you establish a relationship with management

A skip-level interview is an opportunity to establish a relationship with management. By meeting with a senior leader, there's a chance for you to connect with them and build trust. This can be beneficial when seeking advice or mentorship or advocating for change within the company. Establishing a relationship with a senior manager may also help you advance your career by providing you with a contact who has positive things to say about your work.

How to prepare for a skip-level meeting

It's normal to feel nervous or uncomfortable about going to a skip-level interview. You may feel anxious about your ability to answer questions or communicate your thoughts effectively. To feel more confident and make the most of your meeting, you can prepare in advance by following these steps:

1. Know the person you're meeting

Getting background information about the senior manager who plans to speak with you is a great way to prepare for your meeting. You can start by researching them from the organization's social media profiles or looking into their personal profiles on online professional networks. These channels can give you many insights into their work ethic, values, career goals, leadership style, and personality.

Consider noting down the important points you come across in your research and write down any questions you may have. Doing this can help you feel more confident about meeting the senior manager because you understand their background well and know what you want to learn during the meeting. Learning about the person you're meeting allows you to establish a rapport more easily.

2. Determine your career goals

A skip-level interview is a chance to discuss your career aspirations. As senior managers sometimes ask about career goals, you can prepare by outlining your short- and long-term career objectives, plans for achieving them, and your progress to date. Consider listing how the organization might assist your professional development and how this benefits the organization in turn. This can help you feel more confident about the meeting and give the senior manager a better idea of your potential, which may help advance your career.

Related: Responding to "What Are Your Career Goals?" (With Examples)

3. Ask colleagues about their skip-level interviews

Talking to colleagues about their experiences can give you an idea of what usually happens in a skip-level interview and make you feel more confident about it. This also allows you to prepare more effectively because you know the questions that senior managers typically ask and the topics you're likely to cover in the meeting. Your colleagues might also have tips for how to approach the interview, which may help you perform better on the day.

4. Create a list of positive points about your work and the organization

Another way to prepare for your skip-level interview is to list the positive aspects of your work and the company. The list can be a conversation starter or a way to establish rapport with the senior manager. This may help you make a good impression and make the most of the meeting.

Consider listing your achievements in the organization, what you enjoy about your job, and what you like about the company and its people. Sharing these points with the senior manager demonstrates your commitment to the organization. It also helps them understand your motivations and goals and see how their work affects you and other employees, which can influence their decisions.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Be a Positive Thinker

5. Come up with suggestions for improvement

Skip-level interviews are a tool that management uses to learn about issues that may be affecting the organization and its employees. It's important that you go to the meeting prepared to discuss these and offer suggestions on how to address them. The senior manager may ask you to share any work-related issues that you think require attention and suggest possible solutions. It's a good idea to develop specific and easy-to-implement solutions.

Related: How to Build Trust at Work and Improve Team Cohesion

6. Prepare questions for the senior manager

The questions you ask the senior manager may be about their work, the organization, and your role in the company. Asking them about their work can help you learn more about them and their role in the organization. This may influence your future career decisions, especially if you're interested in pursuing a job that's similar to theirs.

Questions about the organization's goals, plans, and progress can give insight into its current situation and how you might contribute to its success. It's also a way to show the senior manager that you're interested in the company and its development. Asking questions about your role enables you to understand your responsibilities better and learn how to improve your performance.

Related: Techniques for an Interview (Including Examples and Tips)

7. Remember to ask for feedback about your work

As part of their preparation, a senior manager may conduct research about you before the meeting. This helps them learn more about your work and performance in the organization. Asking for feedback about your work during the meeting allows you to discuss any areas that may require improvement. It also demonstrates your willingness to improve and grow in the organization, which can be a positive factor in the senior manager's decision-making.

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