Exit interviews are extremely important tools employers often overlook. Many companies skip exit interviews entirely, but by doing so they are missing a vital opportunity to gather feedback, reduce turnover, and identify opportunities for growth. Employees change jobs for a variety of reasons, but employers will not be able to identify why they are leaving unless they ask. Continue reading to learn more about how exit interviews lead to company success.

What is the Purpose of the Exit Interview?

exit interviewThe exit interview is a discussion and an opportunity for the employer to better understand staff experience at work, the places in which the company is excelling, and the areas that require improvement. Consider offering an exit interview to all staff members that leave the company.

By conducting exit interviews regularly and in a standardized way, employers can begin to identify recurring issues or reasons for leaving. This is why it’s important to hold an exit interview for all staff, regardless of their reason for leaving.

What Information Should You Try to Collect?

Questions can cover company environment, relationships to colleagues and managers, training and development opportunities, and reasons for leaving. Interviewers may also wish to ask about working conditions, workload, and benefits/pay. The exit interview is principally about gaining insight, rather than rehashing old disputes, so try to focus on overall themes rather than specific people or incidents.

How Should Exit Interviews be Conducted?

Exit interviews do not necessarily have to be conducted face-to-face. Some companies choose to use questionnaires, online surveys, or telephone/Skype interviews. If the exit interview will be in-person, staff should be interviewed by someone other than their immediate line manager to encourage transparency and candor. In general, exit interviews are conducted by a member of human resources rather than someone in the employee’s team or department. Interviews should last a half an hour to an hour, though they may be longer depending on the discussion, length in post, and position in the company.

Give the departing staff member the list of exit questions a few days prior to the interview, so they have plenty of time to consider their answers. Choose a quiet room and if necessary, place a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door to ensure zero interruptions.

exit interviewExit interviews should be kept confidential. It is very difficult to cultivate an open and honest environment without the reassurance of confidentiality and anonymity.

Sample Exit Interview Questions

  • Do you feel there were opportunities for development and professional training in your role?
  • Do you feel you received regular feedback from your line manager?
  • How would you describe your working relationships with your colleagues?
  • Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve the working conditions at the company? Have you raised these suggestions with your manager?
  • What were the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
  • Do you feel that you were compensated fairly?

Finally, exit interviews are useless unless they are translated into actionable information. Have a system in place to analyze the information that you receive and a way of sharing it with relevant leadership. The most common reasons exit interviews do not result in actionable information are: There is not a good system in place for analyzing and disseminating the information; employees do not feel that they can speak honestly, or the company is not asking the most fruitful questions. It may be worth instituting an annual review of your exit interview process to make certain that you avoid these pitfalls.

When used properly, exit interviews can be a vital resource for retaining talented people and ensuring the future success of the company. They are a unique opportunity to speak candidly with departing employees about all aspects of their work experience. By conducting thorough exit interviews, you will build a stronger company culture and lay the foundation for further growth into the future.


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