A Complete Guide to Employee Spotlights (+ Example Questions)

Here's our guide to employee spotlights - what they are, why they matter, and how to create spotlights that motivate your superstars.

A Complete Guide to Employee Spotlights (+ Example Questions)

Spotlights illuminate. They draw attention, create focus, and let unique contributions shine.

That rising star in your accounting department who found a million dollars in cost savings? Spotlight!

The customer service rep who gets rave reviews for deep empathy with every caller? Spotlight!

The software developer whose creative solutions cement customer loyalty? Spotlight!

Employee spotlights make heroes out of the people moving your company forward. They turn up the glow for your brightest talents so nobody misses their brilliance.

But doing spotlights right takes some effort. You don’t want generic praise that blends into the background noise. The goal is to turn up the volume so your people get noticed for all the right reasons.

So how do you shine the spotlight to make your all-stars gleam? Read on!

What is an Employee Spotlight?

An employee spotlight is a special call-out that highlights a top-performing employee. This usually consists of a photo, interview quotes, and a short write-up about why they are being recognized.

Spotlights are different than typical employee recognition because they dive deeper into a specific person's story. They give a glimpse of the unique strengths, personality, and humanity of stand-out team members.

Done well, spotlights are featured prominently on company intranet sites, employee directories, newsletters, or external marketing materials. They give colleagues and customers a view into the people who make the company great.

Why should we care about employee spotlights? In a world filled with distractions and information overload, making your people stand out takes effort. But it's so worth it.

Spotlights show what we notice. That we pay attention. And attention is the hard currency of the 21st century.

The Benefits of Using Employee Spotlights

So why go through the effort of doing employee spotlights? What are the benefits?

It’s more than just feel-good recognition. Employee spotlights are a strategic tool with tangible value:

Motivate & Energize Your Stars

Public recognition is a powerful intrinsic motivation for top performers. Spotlights make them feel highly valued which boosts engagement and loyalty. Spotlights also spread positive energy across the organization. They remind everyone that going above and beyond is celebrated here.

Reinforce Cultural Values & Behaviors

Spotlights allow you to model exactly the cultural values, mindsets, and behaviors you want to see replicated. They demonstrate what success looks like in vivid color.

Build Your Employer Brand

There is no better marketing than showing off your A+ players. Spotlights turn employees into authentic brand ambassadors. Getting spotlighted also builds their external profile and networks.

Signal Priorities to Customers

Spotlights communicate priorities to your market. For example, highlighting customer service stars signals that you care deeply about the customer experience.

Create Community & Connection

Thoughtful spotlights reveal the people behind the jobs. This fosters connection and relationship-building among employees and customers.

What’s the Difference Between Employee Spotlights and Employee Profiles?

Employee profiles are a standard overview of someone’s background - their photo, title, bio, areas of expertise, and maybe some basic facts like start date or office location. They give baseline information.

Employee spotlights go much deeper through a Q&A format that calls out specific achievements, their impact on the organization, how they exemplify the culture, what motivates them, and personal facts or quotes.

The idea is to reveal the person behind the job title and tell their unique story. Spotlights have a journalistic style meant to engage and inspire readers. Profiles simply inform.

Here are some key differences:

Employee Profiles

Employee Spotlights

  • Inspire through stories
  • Conversational tone
  • Recognize stand-out performers

How to Create an Employee Spotlight

Once you’ve identified someone worthy of the spotlight, here’s a playbook for bringing their accomplishments to light:

1. Choose The Right Medium

Think about where you want the spotlight featured and who needs to see it. Options might include:

  • Company newsletter
  • Intranet site
  • Staff Directory
  • External marketing materials
  • Website banners
  • Social media

Match the medium to the audience you want to reach. A big PR splash signals value to external audiences while the company newsletter nurtures internal culture.

2. Craft the Narrative

Start by outlining the key points about why this person is being recognized. Focus on their specific contributions and achievements. Then conduct a Q&A style interview to add color commentary. Weave in anecdotes that give a window into their personal story. Paint a vivid and relatable picture of their successes and personality.

3. Focus on the Details

Here's how to make your employee spotlights standout:

  • Include a high-quality headshot style photo
  • Use lively headers and subheads
  • Pull the most impactful interview quotes
  • Feature the spotlight prominently

4. Have Them Reflect

Ask the employee to reflect on their learnings, memorable moments, key contributors, and advice for others. This adds richness and a reflective perspective.

When employee spotlights are done well they motivate superstars, shape culture and reveal the singular people who make your company shine. The returns compound over time as they inspire others towards greatness.

Example Questions to Get You Started with Employee Spotlights

Crafting a compelling employee spotlight begins with asking the right questions in your interview. Here are some open-ended questions to illuminate their story:


  • What achievements are you most proud of?
  • How did you manage to save the company $1 million your process improvements? Paint us a picture of how it happened.
  • What specific parts of our culture do you feel you exemplify?


  • What was your career journey to this company like?
  • Who has been the most influential mentor or sponsor to you and why?
  • What’s your favorite company memory or defining moment?

Personality & Values

  • How would your friends or colleagues describe you?
  • What are you passionate about outside of work?
  • What motto or mantras do you live by?


  • What key lessons have you learned over your career here?
  • What advice would you give to someone following in your footsteps?
  • How can we keep getting better at recognizing employee excellence?

Use these starter questions to craft a unique interview flow. The goal is to unearth personal details and stories that humanize the spotlight.

So, Let Your People Shine

Employee spotlights, done well, motivate superstars, shape culture, and reveal the singular people who make your company thrive.

It's easy to gloss over this effort when you're busy. But the returns compound over time.

So take the time to notice, craft the story, and shine that light. It matters. Your people are worth it.