How to Conduct Employee Exit Interviews

In today’s marketplace where competition to find and retain talent is fierce, employers are always looking for new approaches and tactics that can give them competitive advantage. One area which is often neglected in the talent management process are Exit Interviews. They are often secondary to the Employer Engagement survey and treated as an afterthought and as a box ticking exercise, which devalues the Exit Interview and causes it to be mistrusted by employees.

However, exit interviews deserve consideration in their own right because research reported on prweb.com revealed that 53% of respondents indicated that they would be more likely to be honest in an exit interview compared to only 22% who were prepared to be honest in an employee survey.

So, executed well Exit Interviews can be an invaluable device which can enable employers to get honest feedback about their business – and this information can be used to improve the business environment and employee offering and make the business more attractive to current and future employees. Below we have set out several steps/tips that you can follow to help you conduct effective Exit Interviews in your business.

When to conduct exit interviews.

It is best to conduct Exit Interviews on the employee’s last or second last day of employment. This means the employee will be less anxious about any potential repercussions of them providing feedback. This will mean that they are not only more likely to attend the interview, but they are also more likely to be more honest.

You could also consider conducting the interview a week or two after the employee has left as this will remove/reduce the fear of recrimination which means they may be more honest still. They may also have had time to reflect on things which means that you may get better quality feedback which is more focused on the most important concerns. This approach is higher risk as the departed employee may have ‘moved on’ mentally and may not want ‘rake up old ground’ and may be therefore be more likely to decline the interview.

Ensure that the purpose of the interview is made clear to the employee. Employees will be much more keen to partake in Exit interviews if they believe the results of the interview will be used to make the work-place better. So ensure, to explain to the employee that the results will be used to improve the business and if you have any examples of changes that have been made as a result of exit interviews, then communicate this to the employee.

Ensure that the employee is granted anonymity. The employee is likely to be honest if they can respond anonymously. This is not always possible in small businesses, but try and report the results of the Exit Interviews in an aggregated manner perhaps on a twice yearly or annual basis so it is not easy to identify which exiting employee said what, granting anonymity. Of course, tell the exiting employee that you plan to do this so you get the desired effect.

What questions can you ask?

Clearly, you should be asking a set or questions (anything from about 10 to 30 questions,) covering a range of areas such as direct line management, overall management, working environment, benefits, reason for leaving, likes, dislikes etc. Ideally, an Exit interview should last about thirty minutes.

Typical exit Interview questions might be:

      1. Why did you choose to leave the company?
      2. What do you value about the company?
      3. What do you dislike about the company?
      4. What did you like most about your job?
      5. Did you have clear goals and know what was expected of you?
      6. What would you recommend to help us create a better workplace?

If you follow these steps you will be able to conduct more effective exit interviews that provide actionable data which can be used to make the workplace more attractive to employees and candidates.