EXIT INTERVIEW: Tips for Conducting an Exit Interview (+Example questions)

Exit Interview
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When an employee decides to leave your company, it’s important to give them an exit interview. If you can figure out why they’re leaving, you’ll be in a much better position to convince others to stay. You can use an exit interview template to ensure that your exit interview process is consistent and that employees provide valuable information as they leave the company. Although, an exit interview won’t be necessary if you don’t have a proper team in place. One disadvantage of an exit interview is that you risk tarnishing your professional reputation as you leave, as others will undoubtedly learn of your criticisms of your employees and the company. So, in this article, we’ll go over how you can conduct a good exit interview as an employer, as well as some excellent exit interview questions.

What Is An Employee Exit Interview?

An exit interview is conducted before an employee leaves a company to gain a sense of and understanding of what an organization can improve on in order to retain its top talent. It’s an important part of the overall exit interview process and is usually hosted in some capacity by HR.

During an exit interview, HR can ask the employee questions like, “Why are they leaving?” What did they think of the company, and did they have any ideas for how to make things better? Ideally, the discussion is based on a structured questionnaire, which we will go over later in this article.

How to Conduct an Exit Interview

Here are some of the most important guidelines to follow and sample questions to ask in an exit interview.

#2. Conduct an Exit Interview Before an Employee Leaves

You should conduct an exit interview with everyone who leaves your company. Some practitioners will tell you that you should only conduct them with your star performers (the ones you really want to keep) and not worry about ‘trouble-makers.’

Indicating that only certain departments should conduct an exit interview sends the wrong message about the value of the practice as a whole. It communicates to the rest of the company that only some people’s opinions are worth considering. The purpose of exit interviews is to give you a clear picture of everything going on at your company, not just a few people’s opinions.

If you ignore the viewpoints of those who cause problems, you will have a huge gap in your understanding of how to fix the system. You won’t learn why this employee became a “troublemaker” in the first place; perhaps there’s a problem with the way the position is handled that makes it difficult for people to succeed. You’ll never know unless you ask.

#2. Be on Time.

An exit interview is best conducted on the leaver’s last day or in the days directly following their departure. They won’t be as free with their thoughts before this.

Having some “mental distance” from the role, even if it’s just a few days, can be very helpful. It provides the leaver with a viewpoint from which they can evaluate their experiences more critically rather than emotionally.

However, if you leave it for more than a week, they will begin to feel disengaged from the business, especially if they have already begun in a new role. You may notice that their feedback becomes more general or less direct.

Maintain Transparency.

Always share the topics you want to cover ahead of time. Make a list of the questions you want to ask or topics you want to discuss, then send it to the leaver in advance via email.

This not only helps to put them at ease but also increases the likelihood that they will respond with thoughtful, well-developed responses. It gives them a few days to reflect on their experiences and provide thoughtful feedback, rather than having to do so on the spot.

#4. Maintain a Friendly Atmosphere.

Exit interviews should be as casual as possible. You can make every effort to hold them somewhere other than the office, such as a nearby cafe. This helps to reinforce the idea that this is a friendly, two-way conversation between ex-colleagues rather than a disciplinary procedure. If you conduct the exit interview at work, it will inevitably feel like they are at work.

#5. Maintain a Close, Individual Connection.

One interviewer is always sufficient. You don’t want them to feel like the company is ganging up on them, so let the leaver choose who conducts the interview as much as possible. If the two get along well, you’ll get much more honest (and thus more valuable) feedback.

It’s best if the person conducting the exit interview isn’t the person who will be directly supervising the departing employee. There are several reasons for this. For starters, it encourages the leaver to be more candid in their feedback. This is your chance to find out if that is true for your company.

Furthermore, it automatically moves that feedback up one level in the business hierarchy, making it more likely that they will do something about it.

#5. You Should Listen More Than You Speak.

As the interviewer, don’t feel obligated to respond to feedback; that is not the purpose of this process. You’re not there to defend the company or justify your own decisions, but to learn everything you can about it.

This could be a very difficult experience, especially if you are the founder. However, take heart in the fact that even the most damning feedback can be used to improve your company.

Exit interviews can be extremely difficult, especially if you own the company. It’s a conversation in which someone has complete freedom to criticize you and your company. It can feel like you’re being kicked while on the ground. But the trick is to swallow your pride and let them speak for themselves.

#6. Guide Rather Than Dominate a Conversation.

As the interviewer, you may be tempted to steer the conversation toward topics that you are eager to discuss. This is especially true for founders, who frequently care deeply about the company they have built and have strong opinions about how it should be run.

However, seizing control of this conversation is a mistake. Guide it to the topics you believe are relevant, but the goal is to hear what the leaver has to say, so let them take the interview where they want.

#7. Share Your Findings

Ensure that exit interview notes are shared with the entire company leadership, not just the leaver’s immediate team. This ensures that company leaders have a thorough understanding of how each aspect of the business is performing.

#8. Implement the Findings

Everything up to this point has been simple. You must now put your newfound knowledge into practice. If you conducted the exit interview correctly, you may have heard stories of team members not pulling their weight or managers not supporting their staff. It may be difficult to hear, but if you’re serious about improving the way your business is run, you must commit to making the necessary changes.

Types of Exit Interview Templates

There are two ways to use exit interview templates. One method involves asking the exit interview questions verbally, while the other involves a written form that the employee must fill out. You can also combine these two approaches by having employees complete a form and then discuss their responses in an interview. Any exit interview template should include these five types of questions.

  • Reasons for leaving a job
  • Job circumstances
  • Work culture
  • Workplace environment
  • Technology

Here are descriptions of both approaches, as well as some sample questions you can include in the exit interview template you ultimately create for your organization:

#1. Template for Exit Interview Questions

HR uses an exit interview question template during a face-to-face interview with the departing employee. It consists of open-ended questions that can spark a conversation. 

Why did you start looking for a new job and eventually decide to quit your current one? There could be different reasons why they are looking for a new job and why they are leaving. Perhaps they were wooed away by a more promising offer from a competitor, or they wished for a more manageable commute, higher pay, or a change of pace in their careers. However, there could be underlying causes, such as discrimination or a toxic workplace environment.

You may notice common themes of legitimate concerns as you collect data from more people over time. These insights can help the organization identify areas where it needs to grow as an employer.

#2. Exit Interview Form Template 

A questionnaire is filled out by the employee in an exit interview form template. Your questions will be answered using a rating scale and/or a series of multiple-choice options. It may also contain open-ended questions. This method generates data that is more easily measurable and quantifiable than an exit interview template. 

#3. Multiple-Choice/Rating Scale Questions

Surveys that use a rating scale or a set number of predetermined answer options are essentially closed-ended and seek responses to questions with a set number of possible answers. Participants rate their agreement with statements or provide their thoughts by clicking on a number. There may also be a section where respondents can elaborate on their answers in their own words.

#4. Closed-Ended/Open-Ended Hybrid Template

You can also use a template for an exit interview form that includes both closed-ended and open-ended questions. It enables you to use the best format for gathering the specific type of commentary you’re looking for.

Advantages of Exit Interview

  • It lets you know why a person is leaving your company.
  • Exit interviews are a low-cost measure because the company already has an HR team in place to conduct the exit interview, saving the company time and money.
  • An exit interview fosters goodwill for any future transactions. It leaves the door open for future opportunities to return to the company.
  • It benefits the organization by improving the financial statement’s bottom line. This is so because reducing employee turnover reduces the need for the business to invest in recruiting, screening, and training new employees.
  • You may come across people you are leaving behind in the professional world. It is critical to leave on a positive note and maintain an amicable relationship so that you do not feel uneasy if you meet them again in the future.
  • Sharing your honest feedback will help the company grow and develop while also benefiting your fellow workers.
  • It serves as a source of feedback that provides an accurate picture from the employee’s point of view.
  • It can assist the organization in identifying serious issues such as violence, discrimination, and harassment.
  • It provides information on training requirements, onboarding, and recruiting policies.
  • With the help of information from an exit interview, the organization can assess the culture and environment in its space.
  • When an employee can finally discuss any outstanding issues with his superiors in an open and straightforward manner, it provides a welcome sense of closure.

Disadvantages of Exit Interview

  • If the employee fears burning bridges, the process may be a waste of time.
  • When an employee knows his departure is imminent, he may feel pressured to speak freely about his experiences. When you have to deal with the company from the other side of the table, this can lead to regret and problems.
  • Leaving on bad terms is more likely than patching things up during an exit interview.
  • If an outgoing employee has strong negative feelings, the exit interview can quickly devolve into a battleground with many heated words.
  • An exit interview is merely a formality that can prove costly and pointless for the company without a good team for later evaluation and corrective measures.

Exit Interview FAQs

What happens in exit interview?

An exit interview is a discussion between a company and an employee who has chosen to leave the company.

What should you say in exit interview?

Share your thoughts on the company and what they do well by emphasizing your positive experiences there. Your employer will likely regard your comments and experiences as more fair, honest, and accurate if you provide a mix of positive and negative feedback.

Can I decline an exit interview?

If you choose to decline an exit interview, you will most likely be safe. However, before deciding whether or not to participate in an exit interview, consider whether there will be any benefit to you.

References

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