Exit Interviews and How to Conduct Them

As a business owner, you know it’s important to plan for every eventuality. But what happens when one of your key employees decides to leave?

Exit interviews are an essential part of the transition process. They can provide you with valuable information about why your employee is leaving and how you can improve your company in the future – so you can make changes before someone else leaves your company.

Conducting exit interviews may seem daunting, but we’ll make it easy for you. We’ll walk you through everything from setting up the interview to getting the most out of the conversation.

What’s the Purpose of Exit Interviews?

First, let’s start by defining an exit interview. As its name implies, an exit interview is a conversation that takes place between a company and an employee who’s leaving.

When conducted correctly and with care, exit interviews can provide you with a wealth of information about your business. Some of the key things you can learn include:

  • Why the employee is leaving
  • What went well during their time at the company
  • What could use improvement in the company
  • The employee’s thoughts on their job, their co-workers, and the company culture
  • Whether the employee would recommend the company to others
  • The employee’s thoughts on their future career prospects

Based on this information, you can start making changes to your company – whether it’s tweaking your company culture, addressing any areas of concern, or simply thanking the employee for their time with the company.

Exit interviews are also a way to ensure that departing employees leave on good terms. If you handle things correctly, they may even be willing to provide a reference or recommend your company to others.

Who Conducts an Exit Interview?

The exit interview should be conducted by someone in a senior position, such as the CEO, another manager, or HR representative. This is someone who can ask questions about the company and get honest answers from the employee.

How to Conduct an Exit Interview

Follow these tips and you’ll be able to get the most out of the conversation.

1. Select an Interviewer

As mentioned earlier, the exit interview should be conducted by someone in a senior position. The interviewer should also have a good relationship with the employee and who they feel comfortable talking to. This is someone who can ask difficult questions but also be diplomatic and respectful.

2. Prepare for the Interview

Before the interview, the interviewer should collect all relevant information about the employee’s departure. This includes their former roles and responsibilities, the dates they worked at the company, and any problems or issues during their time with the company.

The interviewer should also review the employee’s personnel file and any notes from previous meetings. This will help them ask specific questions about the employee’s experience at the company.

3. Request a Written Survey From the Employee

Before the interview, the interviewer should ask the employee to complete a written survey. This will allow them to reflect on their time at the company and what they’d like to share with the interviewer. Plus, it’s ideal for employees who might feel uncomfortable talking face-to-face since they’ll have the opportunity to share their thoughts in a written format.

When you read their answers before the interview, that’ll also help you come up with specific questions to ask them on the day.

4. Set Up a Time and Place for the Interview

Once you have the relevant information, it’s time to set up a time and place for the interview. Make sure that the employee has plenty of notice to arrange their schedule. It’s also important to avoid scheduling it during their last week at the company, as they’ll likely be busy with paperwork and other farewells.

Ideally, aim to have the interview when the employee has around one week left. This will give them enough time to tie up any loose ends and leave on good terms.

In terms of location, the interview should take place in a quiet and private setting where the employee can focus on the conversation. That could be either at the office or another neutral location.

5. Actively Listen

Exit interviews can be difficult, so it’s important to start off with some easy questions. This will help the employee to relax and open up. As they become more comfortable, you can ask more probing questions.

When the interviewer is asking questions, they should actively listen to the employee’s responses. This means making eye contact, taking notes, and showing that they’re engaged in the conversation. That way, the employee will feel like their opinions are valuable and worth sharing.

Some questions to ask in an exit interview include:

  • Why are you choosing to leave the company?
  • What were your favourite things about working here?
  • What were some of the challenges you faced during your time with us?
  • Do you have any suggestions on how we could improve our organization?
  • Did you feel like you had the opportunity to grow and develop your skills?
  • What names come to mind regarding people who have significantly influenced your time with us?
  • Would you recommend our company to others?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Tip: It’s important to remember that the interviewer isn’t in a position to judge the employee. They should avoid making assumptions about why the person is leaving or what might have gone wrong during their time at the company.

In Conclusion

Exit interviews are a valuable way to gain insights from employees leaving your company. Not only can you learn about their experience, but you can also get their suggestions on how to improve your organization.

By following the five tips above, you can create a smooth and respectful exit interview process that’ll benefit everyone involved.

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