Top Considerations You Should Make in an Exit Interview

An employee can leave an organization for various reasons. Probably they have found another role that suits them better, or they are experiencing a hostile work environment. It's recommendable to understand why an employee chooses to work elsewhere.

The Meetingnotes Team
March 1, 2024

An employee can leave an organization for various reasons. Probably they have found another role that suits them better, or they are experiencing a hostile work environment. It's recommendable to understand why an employee chooses to work elsewhere.

The best way to uncover these details is through an exit interview. An exit interview gives the employee leaving an opportunity to speak openly about their experience in your organization. In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about a successful exit interview.  

In this article, we’ll be covering the best exit interview process, allowing your team members to get the maximum benefit from this often overlooked process.

<div id="1"></div>

What is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview is a meeting between an exiting employee and a human resources staff member. It works as an opportunity to obtain honest feedback from the employee who's leaving your organization.

It's recommendable to conduct an exit interview with exiting employees leaving an organization and avoid losing additional employees. The employee should use the exit interview feedback to make valuable improvements to the organization.

Some organizations prefer conducting an exit interview once exiting employees turn in their resignations. It's essential to explain in advance why you'll be conducting the interview and when you'll conduct it. You should also explain what to expect from the employee to allow them to gather their thoughts. Planning these interviews will help you achieve a productive conversation.

<div id="2"></div>

Why are exit interviews important?

No matter how you're running your organization, it would help if you had opportunities to learn and improve its working environment. Sometimes it's almost inevitable for employees to leave, but you can utilize this opportunity to learn more about their experience in your organization and create development opportunities. Here's how exit interviews can help your business:

Improves Staff Retention

Staff recruitment can be costly and time-consuming. The cost usually projects when training new staff to adapt to your work environment. Therefore, any business should retain its top talent whenever possible. An exit interview grants an excellent opportunity to assess your employee experience and, as a result, learn different ways you can improve your team members' retention and engagement.

Improves your Organization Culture and Performance

One of the greatest strengths of an exit interview is that exiting employees are impartial in their feelings about an organization. Therefore, conducting exit interviews offers an opportunity to learn the exact reasons behind their decision to leave. You might be surprised to learn that their reason is entirely different from what you initially believed.

An exiting employee will possibly give a candid assessment of your company's culture. In the end, you'll gather valuable information that will improve your company's culture.

Provides an Opportunity to Handle Issues that Require Immediate Attention

Feedback from exit interviews will help you determine issues that need immediate attention and those that can wait. In most cases, you need to attend to matters that put your organization at risk of losing more employees if they're not resolved quickly.

Improves Your Recruitment & Onboarding Strategy

Exit interviews give valuable insight into your organization's onboarding process, induction, and training needs. You've probably been missing something, especially if you're losing your top talents. Therefore, the information you gather from the exit interview will help you align your organization's processes to the expectations of the job roles.

For instance, if an employee consistently complains that their role is more technical than expected, the issue is more affiliated to the organization than the role itself. Therefore, you will need to improve your recruitment strategy by being specific about the role and ensuring that you recruit future employees capable of handling those particular tasks.

Provide Excellent Learning Strategies

An exit interview can reveal the need for better learning and development strategies to improve your organization. For instance, if an employee doesn't feel supported through the challenges of their roles, you can use an exiting employee's feedback to create better learning and development opportunities specific to their roles.

<div id="3"></div>

Should exit interviews be mandatory for all exiting employees?

Yes. Everyone leaving the company deserves an exit interview, contrary to opinions that tell you that you need to conduct them with your top talents. Making your interviews specific for specific employees can send a damaging message to the rest of your workforce. After all, these interviews exist to give clear insights into everything related to your organization, not just the opinions of a few people.

If you're showing other employees that you are dispensing the so-called "trouble makers'' you'll be creating a massive blind spot and miss out on the crucial information, especially why a hire becomes a troublemaker once they settle into your job. Therefore, you'll never know about this unless you ask about it.

Who conducts employee exit interviews?

It depends. Your aim for the exit interview should be to create a trustworthy environment where the exiting employee can give honest reviews about the organization. However, most exit interviews are conducted by members of the Human Resources department. Some companies utilize their department employees' direct supervisors, while others delegate this role to the employee's immediate supervisors. Only a few companies use external consultants to complete this process.  

How to conduct an exit interview

The success of your exit interview depends on how you conduct it. The purpose of your meeting should be to gather detailed insight into issues affecting your organization and give you a sneak peek of competition benchmarks. Here are some tips for conducting an effective exit interview that you should consider:

Choose the Interview Format

Giving a questionnaire to your departing employees is less time-consuming and can help avoid uncomfortable situations. However, a face-to-face exit interview has more benefits, including:

  • It shows that you're concerned about your employees' opinions by setting up a time to listen to their views.
  • It gives a chance for a less structured conversation that offers precise and unexpected details. Questionnaires have standardized questions and don't capture detailed information.
  • You have the opportunity to end things positively.

Please note that a face-to-face exit interview won't succeed if the interviewee feels forced to participate. You should offer an alternative such as a phone interview or questionnaire if the exiting employees feel comfortable with them.

Find a Reliable Interviewer

You should find someone else to conduct an exit interview apart from supervisors or members of the management that work with the employee directly. It's also crucial to avoid using someone who's the reason behind the employee's decision to leave your company. For instance, if you learn that the employee is leaving due to the manager, the organization's manager shouldn't conduct the interview.

In most cases, human resource members are the best option since their roles focus on complaints, suggestions, and issues that affect the organization.

Some companies might hire an external consultant to perform the exit interview. This would help create a trustworthy environment where the exiting employee feels more comfortable providing detailed information about your company. However, you should note that this tactic might seem cold and impersonal to some employees.

Know what to Ask

It's crucial to know what you should ask in an exit interview. One of the best tools to help you conduct your interview effectively is an HR exit interview template. It might look scripted, but it would help you cover crucial details before the employee leaves. You should also promise to maintain confidentiality and keep the tone of the conversation friendly and casual.

Below are some of the exit interview questions you can ask and a description of why you should conduct them:

What Made You Look for a New Job?

By asking this question, you'll be opening an opportunity to ask various other related questions. It also clears up any foul suggestions you might have regarding the employee's decision to leave.

This question would also help you identify and create opportunities and perks that would help your organization attract and retain top talents. For instance, by noticing that your employees leave due to a lack of enough advancement opportunities, you can ask your managers to consider their employee's career aspirations.

Do You Feel As If You're Given What You Needed to Succeed?

Managers have the responsibility to ensure that their employees pursue their career aspirations. Therefore, by asking this question, you'll reveal whether your organization gave its employees the tools needed to succeed in their careers. This will help you address areas where they feel abandoned and address them accordingly.

What made you accept the new position?

This is a reasonable question since it will help you contrast what the other organization offers and decide whether to improve on it. For instance, if the employee indicates that they're leaving for higher pay, you should raise your compensation package and make it competitive.

What Did You Like Least About Your Job?

This question will help you get insight into what you will get from your future employees, especially about their perception of the job and expectations of their position. For instance, if the exiting employee says that they are unhappy with the opportunities given to travel, you should ensure that you offer frequent business travel opportunities to your next hire.

How Would You Describe the Culture of Our Company?

This question isn't aimed at determining specific aspects, but it would help identify clear trends. Company culture is described by particular trends and separates legitimate concerns affecting your organization from the employee's personal opinions with a negative feeling about the company.

Do You Feel that Our Organization Recognized Your Achievements Throughout Your Employment?

Every employee wants to feel recognized, even if they are not the best talents in an organization. Therefore, if employees don't feel that their values and contributions are not recognized in a workplace, they might feel disappointed and probably decrease their turnover. As a result, they will be obliged to leave your organization and find somewhere they feel recognized.

What Do You Think Could Have Been Done to Remain Here?

There's no other question that's more direct than this one. You should expect a frank answer that allows the employee to open up if they are afraid. You don't expect to lure the employee into continuing working for you, but it would help you deal with this situation in the future.

For instance, if the exiting employee says that they couldn't have quit if they were offered a more flexible working environment, this allows them to adopt flexible working options to accommodate your employees.

How Do You Feel About the Way We Managed You?

Management is crucial in the growth of any organization. Asking your former employee about management is vital for its success. It will help you understand any issues and direct problems and take preventive measures to avoid losing future top employees.

Did You Ever Share the Concerns that You Have today with Anyone in the Company?

This question will help you recognize whether your employees feel comfortable and safe voicing their concerns and opinions about their workplace. If the exiting employee says that they have never aired any of their concerns, then this shows that you need to build a culture where employees feel safe to share their concerns.

On the other hand, a positive response means that your managers don't take their employees' feedback seriously or they are not asking for their opinion often enough. As a result, you will be able to design an employee satisfaction survey to help you identify issues that will prevent losing another employee.

Would You Choose to Work for Us in the Future? What Do You Think Need to be Changed?

This question will help you decide whether the employee will come back. Maybe the employee intends to find another opportunity to gain experience or is seeking an increase in their earnings. Regardless of the answer, this information will help you know your focus when interviewing candidates to replace the new position created by the departing employee.

Exit Interview Goal

An exit interview should help you assess your exiting employee experience in your company and identify areas you need to improve and improve employee engagement and retention. Apart from that, having clear standards when conducting the interviews will help you deal with risks associated with managing the organization.

Key Takeaways

Exit interviews are crucial for determining any issues associated with your workplace and ensuring that you improve on them. This will help retain your top talents and improve your recruitment process.

Don't let unproductive meetings slow you down

See the impact of fewer, shorter meetings, increased accountability, and enhanced productivity with Fellow.

Get started with Fellow todayGet started with Fellow today

Got something to contribute?

Become a contributor, and add your unique take on these topics to our website.
Become a contributor