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How to Perform a Proper Exit Interview

02 Jun


Business leaders need to make it a priority to learn from their employees— why they stay, why they leave, and how the organization needs to change. For these reasons, an argument could be made that an exit interview is equally or more important than a recruitment interview.

An exit interview is a discussion a human resources (HR) professional or manager has with an employee who is leaving the company. The exit interview essentially serves three purposes:

  1. To learn where the company can improve itself
  2. To make sure employees leave feeling good about their service
  3. And, in some cases, to encourage the employee to stay under new circumstances.

Furthermore, exit interviews can help you create new goals and strategies to strengthen your business’ operations and retain your top talent.

Despite the benefits of exit interviews, they aren’t always conducted the proper way. Very rarely is data collected, analyzed, and shared to make educated decisions on what direction you should take. Here are tips on how to perform an engaging exit interview and gain valuable input.

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Conduct on an Employee’s Last Day

If you want to receive honest information and opinions in an effort to solve your company’s problems, it is imperative for exit interviews to happen on an employee’s last day or within the days following.

When the interview is conducted before that time period, an employee may be hesitant to speak their mind because of the ramifications that may follow if their critiques are leaked to the rest of the staff. The employee who is leaving your company needs to be in an environment in which they feel comfortable providing honest feedback; and with that comes the promise of confidentiality.

HR Doesn’t Need to Conduct the Interview

A recent study has shown that 70.9% of HR departments handle the exit interview process. However, this may not always be the most effective way to do it.

As the old HR saying goes, “People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.”

Consider allowing high-level employees in different departments to be a part of the interview process. By doing so, leadership can get direct insight as to how department management is performing and why employees are leaving.

Allowing someone outside of HR to conduct the interview also gives the employee freedom to speak about the company’s HR inefficiencies if there are any.

Pick a Method that Works Best for You

Whether you are more comfortable doing an exit interview in person or over the phone, make sure the method you use is consistent for all employees.

Many experts say face-to-face interviews are the best way to build rapport. However, at this point in the employee lifecycle, there isn’t much rapport to build, considering they are leaving. Other scholars believe phone interviews will elicit greater honesty.

If you or your HR department is uncomfortable conducting an exit interview, you may even want to consider questionnaires and surveys.

A survey that explores topics, such as benefits and pay, training, orientation, management issues, environment and culture, opportunities for growth, mentoring, and effectiveness of the company’s open-door policies, should answer any inquiries you may have had.

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Remove Your Emotions

When you have an employee who has decided to leave the company, despite how emotional that time may be, you must be certain that the exit interview is amicable.

Exit interviews tend to be confrontational or perfunctory. If you aren’t able to stay level-headed through the duration of the interview, look for the help of a colleague who is more experienced in these situations, or work with a professional employer organization (PEO) like VensureHR. Not only could a PEO help with tasks that come with an employee’s departure, but they can also provide free resources to recruit your next employees. These resources include a guide to recruiting, an interview questionnaire form, an onboarding checklist, and more.

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