5 min read | 21 July, 2021 By Andy Stewart
Successful companies never want to lose valued members of staff, but in a modern working environment there will always be some who choose to leave. Learn to make this loss productive by carrying out a thorough exit interview.
Correctly implemented, an exit or departure interview can help you gather important information to improve your business strategy, develop company culture and help you retain staff in the future.
An exit interview is a formal talk between a company and an employee who has decided they wish to leave the business.
You can think of an exit interview as the opposite of a job interview, where instead of asking the individual why they want to join the company, you are getting information about why they are leaving.
At its core, the interview will try to understand why the employee wants to leave, with the objective of collecting information to prevent it from happening again.
An exit interview gives you a chance to better understand the reason behind an employee choosing to leave your company, giving you an opportunity to correct it and prevent any further loss of staff.
You may find that staff in these interviews are more honest and forthcoming when offering feedback than those who remain under your employment.
It’s vital that you always approach an exit interview in a positive manner. Remember that it’s also a great opportunity to ensure the relationship with your employee is left on a positive note. You never know, they may wish to return someday...
To make the most of your next interview, try out these questions to get a clearer picture of why they are leaving.
One of the most important aspects of conducting an exit interview is not to ask leading questions, as these can cause the interviewee’s answer to be influenced by your question. This won’t help you collect the broad range of information you need to improve. Avoid asking leading questions, such as:
Overall, it’s important to think of the exit interview process as the employee’s opportunity to provide healthy feedback, based on their personal experience. It should not be influenced by any presumptions you may have.
Before conducting an exit interview, it is best to get the process right. A process template will help you make sure all the correct topics are covered, consistency is always maintained, your conversations remain productive, and everyone is appropriately prepared.
When it comes to conducting an exit interview, communicate with the outgoing employee when it is best to conduct the interview. Pick a time which suits both of you. This way, everything can be discussed without worrying about any time constraints.
You will want to collect as much information as possible and this could take time.
There are two common ways of conducting an exit interview. In one scenario you can simply talk through your questions. Alternatively, you can provide a written form that an employee can complete.
You can choose either of these methods, or you can choose to combine both where you provide the employee with a form to fill out then discuss their answers.
To make sure you get a strong overall picture try and group your questions into these five categories:
The reason for leaving
If you are struggling for questions, have a look at our examples and adapt them to fit your organisation.
Once you have set up the meeting and chosen your method, it's time to conduct the interview. Let the employee know they can have another member of staff to accompany them in this process.
You will want the interview to flow as naturally as possible and let the employee feel comfortable in expressing themselves. Try to be as positive as possible, avoiding leading, negative or accusatory questioning.
Once the interview is complete and you have said goodbye to the departing employee, review your data. See if there are any trends and keep it to compare with any outgoing employees in the future.
It is best not to act upon the feedback of just one employee, unless it is urgent. Keep collecting answers from your exit interviews to build a bigger picture of where you need to improve, then create an action plan to start making changes where needed..
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