Tips on Conducting Exit Interviews

“In today’s knowledge economy, skilled employees are the asset that drives organizational success. Thus companies must learn from them—why they stay, why they leave, and how the organization needs to change. A thoughtful exit-interview process can create a constant flow of feedback on all three fronts.” – Harvard Business Review

Exit interviews can be extremely beneficial and will ultimately help your company become more successful in the future. When an employee resigns or retires, this type of interview is used to discuss the company’s weaknesses and bad experiences they encountered before they leave. Conducting exit interviews will help your company learn where to improve in order to prevent other great employees from leaving as well.

In what ways are exit interviews useful?

  1. Pinpoints where company needs improvement
  2. Demonstrates how your business comes across to employees
  3. Sheds light on your competitors and what they are doing differently
  4. Dedicates time to verify that employee has cross-trained someone or documented their duties
  5. Offers a designated time to collect company property
  6. Helps reduce employee turnover in the future

Tips on Conducting an Exit Interview

  1. If possible, have a HR Manager, or a member of management who is not the direct supervisor of the employee, conduct the exit interview. This makes the situation a little less uncomfortable and leads to more honest answers.
  2. Use the same set of questions for each employee in order to easily identify trends in an organized manner. Check out some great exit interview questions here.
  3. Assure employees that their responses will be logged confidentially and how they answer will not affect their chance of getting a good reference in the future. This will also help you gain more genuine answers.
  4. Dig deeper into the employee’s short responses. Ask for details or examples of the problems they give.
  5. Do not get defensive of the business and do not offer solutions to the named problems. It is too late to fix them at this point. The purpose of the exit interview isn’t to convince them to stay. Let the employee vent and listen more than you speak for the best results.
  6. End on a professional, positive note, if possible, to maintain your reputable company brand. Wish the employee success in the future. Taking the time to talk to them about what went wrong can preserve the employee’s respect for the organization and they may still recommend your business to a friend in the future.

The ultimate goal of conducting an exit interview is to create a work environment that employees no longer want to leave. Analyze the data collected during these interviews, look for key patterns, and give the results to upper management in order to make the necessary changes happen.

It should be noted, however, that these issues should have come up prior to the exit interview. Your company should be open to hearing suggestions and employee complaints all year round so that maybe these problems can be resolved before it gets to the point where an exit interview is needed.