Growth September 20, 2012 Last updated September 18th, 2018 2,382 Reads share

It’s Hard To Say Goodbye: 5 Tips For Conducting Effective Exit Interviews

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There are few things more awkward for an employer and an employee than an exit interview. One of your employees wants to move on, so they give you their two week notice. In response, you ask them to sit with you on their last day and answer a slew of questions like “Why are you leaving?” and “Did you feel you were adequately compensated?”

Still, as an employer, the exit interview can be extremely valuable. It offers a rare chance to see through the eyes of his or her employees.

  • The whole idea behind the exit interview is to score information that will eventually improve the quality of your workplace and reduce the amount of, that’s right, exit interviews you have to conduct.
  • Happy employees don’t often leave their jobs.

So, now that we know what an exit interview is and why you as an employer should make them common practice when one of your employees chooses to leave, here are 5 tips that will help you make your interviews as effective as possible.

# 1. Mano A Mano

Exit interviews, in my opinion, should be a semi-personal experience for both the interviewer and the interviewee. Online or written survey-style exit interviews tend to be cold and distant, they don’t give your soon to be ex-employee a reason to open up.

Now, I don’t mean there should be hugs and holding throughout the interview, unless of course that’s typical of your office…what I mean is that exit interviews should be conducted face to face.

  • An in-person exit interview give the interviewer a chance to change the questions depending on the interviewees reaction, improvise, and ask followup questions that can give the employer a better understanding of why the employee is leaving.
  • The most successful exit interviews have more in common with a conversation, I think, than a traditional interview.

# 2. The Questions

The hardest part of conducting an exit interview is composing the questions.

  • There are standard questions, some of which I already mentioned, for example: “What was your favorite/least favorite thing about our organization?” – “How would you improve the organization?” etc.
  • Still, the best questions are specific to the person who is leaving. I know this might not be possible for a manger to do on his or her own, especially in bigger companies.

That’s why I suggested a non-formal sit down in the previous point. A conversational exit interview will naturally lead to more in-depth questions.

# 3. Irate Employees

As I’m sure you all know, not all employees who are leaving a business will look back at their time at that business with fondness. That’s right. There’s a chance you may have to conduct an exit interview with a not so happy person.

While exit interviews should always be voluntary (meaning your angry employee may scoff at the idea), you should still extend the offer — you can learn a lot from someone if you pay attention, even if they are in the middle of a cathartic rant.

# 4. The Results

This goes without saying, but once the exit interview is over, it’s important to share the results with the entire management staff.

  • The managers should then brainstorm ways to use this information to better their workplace.
  • Of course, not all the information will be valuable, but it’s important that what information you do get from the exit interview is put into play as soon as possible.

# 5. Don’t Wait

There is one other thing I’d like to mention. You don’t have to wait for an exit interview to find out how your employees are feeling or if they think improvements can be made.

Keep the lines of communication open between you and your employees and, if your lucky, you won’t be conducting any exit interviews at all.

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Daniel Cassady

Daniel Cassady

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