Conducting Effective Exit Interviews

Departing EmployeeMany managers or human resources professionals mistakenly conduct exit interviews with terminated or departing employees haphazardly.  Exit interviews are a company’s last chance to get feedback from employees, so managers should do whatever they can to make the most of them.  The employees thoughts gathered are often the most honest they will give during their tenure.  These insights can be used to reduce employee turnover in the future, as well as to ensure that current staff are and remain satisfied.

You can’t always control the decisions made by your employees.  Some will choose to relocate, become pregnant, or continue their education.  Sometimes, an employee’s decision to leave is a direct result of something that has happened, or is currently happening, within your firm.  For instance, some may leave because they don’t like their boss, were denied a promotion, or have problems with the organization’s culture.   It is vital to understand the reasons behind your employee turnover to improve your management decision making in the future.

Interview Template

The goal of your questioning should be to gather as much information as possible.  You should allow your departing employee to be honest, open, and as straightforward as possible.  With this in mind, it is critical that you consistently ask the same questions of all exiting employees to allow you to draw conclusions from your data.  The following template can help you consistently ask questions that will allow you to effectively gather and use data.

1.  Why are you leaving?  Is it something specific to the company, such as management or culture, or are you leaving for a personal reason?
2.  What did you enjoy most about working here?
3.  What would you say was the biggest difficulty in being employed by XYZ Corporation?
4.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your manager?
5.  If given the opportunity to change one thing about this company, what would it be?
6.  What would you say it takes for an employee to be successful at XYZ Corporation?
7.  How often did your manager provide you with feedback?
8.  How helpful would you say this feedback was?
9.  What advice, if any, would you give to your replacement?
10. Are you planning to stay in the same industry?
11. How will you be compensated at your next place of employment?
12. If given the opportunity in the future, would you return to this company?

Exit Interview Musts

There are several factors that are necessary to make an exit interview successful.  For your exit interview to achieve its goals, you should offer:

Private:

It is important that the departing employee’s direct manager or supervisor not conduct the exit interview.  This can often lead to misleading or dishonest answers.

Secluded:

The exit interview must be conducted in a part of the office in which no other employee can hear what transpires.  If the departing employee is afraid that someone might hear him, he may not be forthright with his observations.

Voluntary:

Finally, the exit interview should not be forced upon a departing employee.  Only accept feedback that is freely offered.  Doing so will help glean the most honest and straightforward answers.  

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