Sep 20, 2015 4 min read

Importance of the Exit Interview

In every business there are moments when employees leave and new ones come. As staff turnover can be costly, conducting exit interviews with leaving employees is a truly beneficial tool, which in the long run, can help the whole enterprise reduce staff turnover costs. What is more, it gives the business a chance to try and keep the employee by figuring out the reasons for the leave. Sometimes those can be surpassed and exit of the worker prevented. If the employee has still made up their mind about leaving, giving them an opportunity to share his/her thoughts increases the likelihood of having the employee leaving on a positive note.

Exit interview is a meeting between the employee and representative of the employer before ending the employment relationship. Though the employee is leaving, the value that person possesses should not be underestimated. Exit interviews can bring insight into the corporate culture, candid feedback to the management, and opportunities for better retention of talent. Conducting such interviews should be a standard with every departing employee and the answers should be recorded in a consistent manner. In addition, outcomes of the interviews should be statistically measured, so they would be comparable in the long run. In that way, possible changes in the organization have stronger basis, thus being easier to explain and enforce.

When it comes to the exit interview itself, several aspects should be kept in mind for a successful outcome. In order to gather both quantitative as well as qualitative data, exit interview can be split into two – first a survey, secondly a face-to-face meeting. Filling in the survey helps the employee gather thoughts and prepare for the interview. The interview should be conducted by someone neutral to the employee, helping to create a foundation for a safe environment where departing employee can freely share his or her opinions and thoughts.

During the face-to-face meeting, importance should be put on the following questions:

Hereto it is advised to focus on rating the effectiveness of the process, rather than how the employee feels about the process. Feelings tend to be subjective and often do not give a coherent overview. Analyzing the process is more trustworthy as it gives a more objective view.

Whilst succeeding with the interview is elemental, more importantly the employer needs to act on the information received. When company decides to make changes suggested by the departing employee, current staff can be informed where the idea came from. Over time they will learn that their opinions are valued and are more likely to suggest improvements constantly and not only when ending the contract.

In addition to the exit interview, the employer should also consider conducting a post-exit interview or survey with the worker who left. When asking similar questions from the former employee it can be seen whether the answers have remained the same or have changed. During the exit interview, the employee might find it difficult to be objective and candid. Leaving time for the employee to “cool off”, may result in a more honest reply.

Exit interviews are easy to conduct and can bring positive emotions to the departing employee as well as improvements to the business. There is nothing to lose, but rather to win for both parties. The best advice is to listen carefully and take the recommendations into consideration. Investing in employees is possibly the best and rewarding management decision. Following this simple principle by Sir Richard Branson “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers” can bring success to every company.


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