6 Steps for Conducting an Exit Interview

Follow these steps to conduct an exit interview with an employee who is leaving the organization:
  1. Select an interviewer. …
  2. Prepare in advance. …
  3. Ask the employee to complete a written survey. …
  4. Schedule the interview at the right time. …
  5. Listen closely. …
  6. Ask if you can share their responses with management.

Members may download a single copy of our sample documents to use for your own purposes within your company. Please take note that your legal counsel should review all such forms and policies to ensure that they comply with applicable laws and that they have been modified to reflect your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Such samples may not be replicated in any other manner, by either members or non-members (e g. , to republish in a book or use for a business purpose) without receiving prior approval from SHRM On the page where the item is located, click the “reuse permissions” button to submit a request for that item. Page Content.

Kate McFarlane recently left her job after five years, and during her exit interview, she aired her grievances. “There was much more to it,” the employee claims. “Our HR rep had thought I was leaving because I was tired of the commute, but there was much more to it.” Over time, both my department and the company as a whole had become so bad that I was unable to continue working there. I took a deep breath and let him have it when he said, “I hear you’re leaving because you found a job close to your house,” with a big smile on his face. I talked about everything that was wrong with the company, the department, the management, the morale, the lighting, and everything else for about 20 minutes. ”.

According to McFarlane, who, like many departing employees, used the exit interview to vent years’ worth of resentment, “I ended by saying that I hoped my honesty would help change some of the circumstances and that hopefully the firm could return to the great company it was when I joined five years prior. ”.

A company can gain a unique perspective on its performance and employee satisfaction from the data gathered in an exit interview. Those who depart may speak frankly about their experiences without concern for immediate consequences. Additionally, they may have recently conducted interviews and job searches, so they can provide some insightful information about how the organization stacks up against competing employers.

Strategic planning for a company should include determining the reasons why employees leave, but many fail to take advantage of this opportunity. Some businesses may believe they have a low staff turnover rate or are small enough to understand why employees leave, according to Brooks C. Holtom, a specialist in organizational behavior and human resource management at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington, D C. , who does employment-retention research. But it’s likely that they are making assumptions that are predisposed to favor the business. ”.

Phil Guilliams, the Precision Response Corp. call center outsourcer’s HR and technology staffing manager argues that exit interviews must be mandated as a formal part of outprocessing in Miami, at least for his group: Many employees would not participate in exit interviews if they were not required to do so. But he points out that workers who still refuse don’t get punished.

Guilliams claims that sometimes people are hesitant to speak their minds for fear of possibly tearing down barriers. “They rely on former supervisors and team members for networking and references.” “During an exit interview, where I was required to report a manager’s inappropriate behavior, I had one of the worst experiences of my career. Soon after my comments reached him, he publicly lost his temper in the office. It chilled the entire workplace. ”.

Guilliams claims that, with some exceptions, he notifies all departing staff members that their comments will be scrubbed of any identifying information before being shared with anyone in the office. “I have an obligation to act if they report criminal activity, sexual harassment, instances of discrimination, or other legal issues,” he claims. “I encourage them to be as honest as possible, [and I explain] that the goal is to find out what we do well and what we can do better to maintain the happiness of our clients and staff,” ”.

Nicole Etolen, a retail clerk at a large office supply store, claims that when she left her job, “They wanted to know if it was because of something they had done wrong.” Although I had received inadequate training, I chose to keep quiet rather than risk upsetting anyone and simply stated that I couldn’t handle the demanding customers. ”.

Nicole made some insightful observations about the company’s supply chain, which a skilled interviewer might have explored further. When a customer arrives at the register, she says, “they’re usually pretty angry because whatever it is they need is always locked in a back room, and they have to wait an eternity for someone with a key to get it for them.” “However, when they did locate someone to return there, the product was out of stock.” ”.

Exit interviews have a tendency to turn either too confrontational or too routine, so the interviewer needs to be very skilled and experienced to gently probe for the whole truth, according to Holtom. And if an interviewer is not skilled in active listening or is not highly sympathetic, they may become offended if the applicant begins to complain. The interviewer must be able to handle the potential for a highly emotional exchange. ”.

The interviewer needn’t necessarily be an HR professional. The best option might be a neutral manager or mentor whom the employee trusts and who is skilled at interviewing. According to Holtom, outsourcing the exit interview to an impartial third party is also a wise move. Nothing else tops the list of “cons,” he claims, adding that the cost may be the only real drawback for employers. “You are more likely to get a trained interviewer, they can collect data in a methodical manner, and workers are more likely to be cooperative and honest,” ”.

Shelly Funderburg, director of hiring solutions for Manpower Inc. In Milwaukee, the process of conducting exit interviews starts with a survey that asks questions about things like compensation and benefits, training, orientation, management concerns, work environment and culture, chances for advancement, mentoring, and the success of the company’s open-door policies. “I would never recommend using this instrument alone,” she says. “I still enjoy sitting down and receiving feedback, using the survey to direct the interview.” ”.

Guilliams, on the other hand, would rather avoid using such survey tools. He says, “I prefer a relaxed one-on-one conversation where I or someone else takes notes.” “In my opinion, survey responses are subpar, and I wonder if respondents are being completely honest when leaving a written record.” ”.

However, Elizabeth Perez, a human resources professional employed by a sizable telecommunications conglomerate, wants her company to rely more on anonymous questioning. She believes that employers shouldn’t require face-to-face interviews if they really want truthful responses. In my experience, a mail-in survey sent after the employee has left the company or a telephone survey conducted by a third party will yield a more truthful response. ”.

Perez does advise HR to hold a final meeting to collect company property, go over check lists, etc. “That would be a good place for employees to share their thoughts and ideas about how to improve the work environment, but I don’t think employees should feel put on the spot,” an employee said. ”.

The company’s annual review, strategic planning, recruiting strategies, training plans, management development program, and any other tool used by businesses to assess themselves should all include this information, according to Funderburg. ” She recommends that the information be compiled and analyzed. It doesn’t have to be an advanced tool, just something that can be regularly brought up to senior management, the author says.

Holtom recently conducted research on the validity of such data. He followed up with 125 people after studying a year’s worth of employee exit interview statements from two significant companies—a retail bank and a government agency. He discovered that between three and six months after leaving, roughly 70% of interviewees gave the same primary explanation for leaving as they had in their exit interview. When asked to list the top three explanations, Holtom discovered a 90% overlap.

According to Holtom, “the exit interview is a rear-view approach by definition.” Companies should not rely too heavily on this data. “What you really want to do is decide who you want to stay with and what will entice them to stay with you,” Employee focus groups, yearly surveys, and additional potential analytical tools can assess retention issues in much more detail. “Job satisfaction is only one of many factors that determine whether someone stays at a job or leaves it,” ”.

Members may download a single copy of our sample documents to use for your own purposes within your company. Please take note that your legal counsel should review all such forms and policies to ensure that they comply with applicable laws and that they have been modified to reflect your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Such samples may not be replicated in any other manner, by either members or non-members (e g. , to republish in a book or use for a business purpose) without receiving prior approval from SHRM On the page where the item is located, click the “reuse permissions” button to submit a request for that item.

The Most Important Question in an Exit Interview | The Engagement Studio

How to conduct an exit interview

To conduct an exit interview with a worker who is quitting the company, follow these steps:

1. Select an interviewer

The exit interview is frequently conducted by a member of the human resources department because they can offer an objective setting for the employee to express their opinions. Additionally, they can act differently as a result of the exit interview feedback. You may also decide to hire a third party to conduct the interview so the staff won’t feel under pressure. However, this may come across as being more impersonal, especially to employees who have enjoyed their time working for the company.

2. Prepare in advance

Even if you’ve conducted exit interviews with other employees before, it’s important to individually prepare for each one because every employee is unique. Prepare for the meeting by preparing your questions, learning about the employee’s role and responsibilities, and getting organized. You can take steps like providing the employee with a cozy chair and blocking time on your calendar to prevent interruptions during your conversation. The exit interview should be held in private.

3. Ask the employee to complete a written survey

Before your meeting, think about having the departing employee complete a written survey. They will have a chance to prepare their responses as a result of this. You might discover that an employee is actually more forthcoming in writing because they feel more at ease. Additionally, you can create inquiries that serve as a conversation starter when you can read their minds before your meeting.

4. Schedule the interview at the right time

The majority of workers will give two weeks’ notice, so plan the exit interview for when the worker has about a week left. They should be invested in their role and willing to share their opinions at this stage of their departure. However, some businesses choose to conduct the exit interview after the employee has already left, which results in a more relaxed conversation where the employee has plenty of room to respond to your questions.

5. Listen closely

It’s crucial to pay close attention to what the employee is saying so you can comprehend what they are saying. To avoid making assumptions about the feedback they are providing, part of this involves asking them the pertinent questions. When you listen to an employee, you convey to them that you and the company value what they have to say.

6. Ask if you can share their responses with management

Make sure the employee is aware that the exit interview is private, but you might want to find out if they are comfortable with you discussing their specific feedback with others at work, such as their immediate supervisor or the department head. You should always reassure the worker that anything they want to be kept private will be Many workers rely on you to reassure them that their reputation will be preserved because they want to make sure it does.

What is an exit interview?

A meeting between a departing employee and (typically) a member of the human resources department is known as an “exit interview.” The exit interview gives you the chance to learn more about an employee’s reasons for leaving the company, which can give you valuable feedback for enhancing the working environment for the rest of the team and potential future hires.

Effective exit interview questions

It’s crucial to have an effective meeting with the employee that leads to an frank discussion in which they feel free to express their opinions about their time working for the company. Here are some questions to consider asking:

Dos and don’ts of conducting exit interviews

For an effective meeting, review these dos and don’ts for conducting exit interviews:

Best practices for exit interviews

What to avoid during an exit interview

How to process employee feedback

Any exit interview you conduct should give you some useful details regarding the business and the experiences that employees have there. Here is how you can process employee feedback:

1. Share relevant information with the appropriate people

It’s crucial to share pertinent information with the appropriate organization members, whether the departing employee provided positive or negative feedback, as long as you have their consent. Positive criticism gives people the chance to share what they are doing well with others so they can keep doing it for the benefit of the remaining employees and perhaps even increase brand loyalty. Negative feedback should be shared with the manager or a higher level up if necessary so that the organization’s leadership can work to make improvements and avoid having a high employee turnover rate.

2. Create a spreadsheet

Its crucial that you take notes from the exit interview. When you and others need to review an interview to get crucial information from it, documentation can be of assistance. With it, you can arrange your notes and look for patterns to identify trends more quickly.

3. Look for trends

You may be able to address problems before you continue to lose important people by examining trends in employee feedback. For instance, you might hear from a number of departing employees that the position wasn’t what they expected. In this situation, you might want to check the job descriptions for specific roles to make sure they correspond to the position’s actual responsibilities. If staff members express a lack of motivation in their position, you can implement retention programs or offer more opportunities for promotion.


What are 5 typical questions asked during an exit interview?

The Best Exit Interview Questions To Improve Your Business
  • 1) Why Did You Start Looking For Another Job?
  • 2) Why Are You Leaving?
  • How Has Your New Position Affected Your Decision To Leave?
  • 4) What Could We Have Done Better?
  • 5) Would You Ever Consider Returning To This Company?

What is asked in an exit interview?

Typical exit interview questions include why you are leaving, why you chose to accept a new job, what you like and dislike about working there, if there is anything you would change about the business, if you would recommend it to others, and if there is anything you think could be done to make it better.

How does an employee prepare for an exit interview?

If you’re an employee who is leaving, keep the following points in mind when preparing answers for your exit interview.
  1. Be objective. Keep your focus on the job. …
  2. Practice your answers. Consider asking a friend or colleague for help.
  3. Take notes. …
  4. Consider nonverbal signals and body language.

When the exit interview is conducted?

Most exit interviews are conducted years after a worker quits. Recommendations about the optimal length of an EI vary. According to some executives, the meeting should last no longer than an hour, with the option to extend it if the conversation warrants it. Others recommend up to 90 minutes.

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