How to Conduct the Ideal Exit Interview
Feb 25, 2023 · 10 mins read ·HR Strategies & Systems
Once an employee hands over their two-week notice you don’t need to be an HR professional to know that a new cycle begins.
Recruiting for that position takes place. Recruiters will now get busy advertising vacancies screening applicants and selecting the newest team member.
But what about the person who turned in the notice? The person now stuffing a cardboard box with their belongings?
Shouldn’t there be a process too?
Yes and that process is called offboarding. And because it is a cyclical process the whole thing begins with another interview—the exit interview.
What is an exit interview?
Exit interviews are meetings that HR staff members or corporate executives hold with departing workers. The interview enables a business to learn more and comprehend the positive and negative experiences that employees have had while working there.
The responses from exit interviews serve as the basis for future workplace policies and improvements at top organizations.
Exit interviews are typically conducted using one of two methods:
1. Face-to-face interview
The most effective way to conduct departure interviews is face-to-face. It permits the interviewer and the outgoing staff to speak privately.
With this interview technique the interviewer can follow up with questions to learn more about the opinions of departing employees.
Businesses use this technique when a sizable number of workers quit their workforce at the same time. They email questionnaires for the departing staff to complete instead of the time-consuming face-to-face interview method.
Because you cannot ask employees for specific information using this strategy it tends to be less personal.
The benefits of an exit interview
Resignations are never really a cause for celebration.
Sometimes when angry or disappointed and their emotions are running high it’s tempting to let the departing employee leave immediately.
No handovers no exit interviews—just avoiding the drama and all.
But your organization needs to resist that mindset. Why?
When maximized exit interviews are vital in ensuring your company’s reputation especially for prospective candidates:
1. It helps identify problems in the company structure and culture
Employees leaving a firm are usually more likely to talk about issues. This is because they are no longer concerned that criticism may harm their careers.
Exit interview questions provide a chance to learn deeply about corporate and leadership culture helping to spot any internal issues.
2. It maintains a strong employer brand
Exit interviews are frequently the final opportunity to make a solid first impression. After that a corporation may accept criticism own up to mistakes and be willing to change by having open communication.
They will remember you more favorably and perhaps even suggest you to others if you can listen intently to a departing employee and express your appreciation.
The makings of a perfect exit interview
Do you know how to conduct an exit interview that will enable you to learn more about what you might have been able to do to maintain a departing employee?
Or what could you possibly improve to help out future employees and lower your attrition rate?
Yes one can gather the above and more information with an exit interview especially if the interview is done appropriately.
How do you conduct a perfect exit interview? We’ve outlined some steps for you:
1. Plan the interview
Meeting face-to-face for an exit interview is a good idea. Your staff will appreciate the kindness which usually leads to more fruitful interactions.
Another choice is to give employees a written exit survey first followed by an in-person discussion.
Some workers might favor the opportunity to formulate their ideas in advance. However remember that the responses in this instance might be less frank.
Ideally the interview should be scheduled during the final two days of an employee’s employment with your business.
Explain why you’re doing an interview. But of course it would be best to prepare your questions too.
2. Select an interviewer
Your employee’s immediate supervisor is the person who knows their work the best. Ideally though the leaving interview should be handled by a different person.
If their manager conducts an exit interview employees are unlikely to mention that they are leaving because of their management. They might also remain silent to get a solid reference.
The ideal choice is typically an HR staff member who can concentrate on problems unique to a given function and grievances or recommendations for the firm.
Some businesses decide to use outside experts to conduct departure interviews. Former workers might feel more at ease speaking with an objective “outsider” but this strategy may appear impersonal and chilly.
3. Prepare your questions
When conducting exit interviews there are specific topics you want to cover even though you never want the dialogue to sound forced.
Additionally you should use several of the same inquiries in each exit interview. This will allow you to compare answers and seek patterns.
Tell the candidate early in the interview that they are under no obligation to respond to any or all of your questions. You should also get their approval before sharing the solutions with management.
When you receive critical feedback during the interview summarize it and re-ask the employee if you can only share that part of the interview if they don’t want you to share anything else.
Promise confidentiality and make an effort to maintain a relaxed cordial tone to allow the dialogue to flow.
Here are some excellent questions to think about for exit interviews:
- Please share your thoughts on working here in general. Please let us know why you left if you can.
- What about working here did you like the most?
- What three things would you change if you could?
- How do you think your boss and your coworkers handled you?
- How well do you think your work was acknowledged and valued?
- Did you receive the proper instruction and support?
- Do you have any information you wish you had earlier?
- Do your efforts complement your personal objectives?
- What can be done to make this company a better workplace?
4. Decide what not to ask
While it’s crucial to keep an eye out for any allegations of harassment discrimination or even poor management that your departing employee may bring up you don’t want to fuel the fire.
Of course you must follow your typical HR investigation protocols and handle it as you usually would any complaint if the employee cites hostility or harassment issues during an exit interview.
Exit interviews should center on the business and the data you collect should be beneficial constructive criticism you can utilize to advance the company its personnel and its procedures.
These discussions also allow staff members to voice their ideas and explain the circumstances surrounding their departure. Nevertheless you must take care not to promote negativity in any of the following ways:
- Don’t inquire specifically about specific individuals or problems. Asking for general input about a supervisor is acceptable but you shouldn’t add your ideas to the discussion.
- Don’t encourage office rumors. It will never be helpful and the information won’t be accurate.
- Avoid saying anything that can be interpreted as slander. The employee’s experience should be the main topic of discussion.
- Don’t build up a situation where it appears that you are about to fire someone. Discussing a departing employee’s performance or status inside the organization is never appropriate.
- Avoid discussing personal matters. Keep the conversation work-related.
Saying goodbye to someone is rarely a pleasant process. However making the most of the circumstances is possible with the help of structured exit interviews.
You learn crucial lessons about improving employee retention and can part ways amicably with your employee. Everyone benefits so all HR departments must conduct employee exit interviews.
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Tricia Tan - Content Writer at Hezum