How Should Employers Prepare For Exit Interviews

How Should Employers Prepare For Exit Interviews?

Is it wise to conduct an exit interview with an employee who is leaving the organization? How an employee departs can be as significant as how he or she arrives so conducting an exit interview is quite essential. This article will guide you on how to conduct an exit interview, the three pitfalls that must be avoided, and twelve potential questions you can use to steer the conversation in the right direction.

What Is An Exit Interview?

An exit interview is defined as the final discussion that an employee has with the employer before leaving the company. The purpose of the meeting is to get an insight into what an organization can optimize to retain its good employees. It is imperative that conducting an exit interview is part of the total strategy of onboarding and offboarding employees.

Typically, such interviews might be conducted by the line manager or the human resource officer. To be clear, a great exit interview is meant to enhance organizational performance by making the exiting employee a referral asset.

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What Topics Are Discussed In An Exit Interview?

Some of the questions an employee may be asked during an exit interview include the following: 

  • Why they are leaving
  • Their perceptions 
about the company
  • Some organizations may incorporate shifts in culture or management approaches.
  • Potential areas for improvement

In an ideal case, the conversation follows a flow of questions and answers. By doing this way, it maintains this level of consistency in which an HR team can get even more insights from larger numbers of answers to the standard questions.

Does Your Company Need To Conduct Exit Interview?

Exit interviews are not part of employment law but they are quite valuable in organizational strategy. Exit interviews have a strategic importance for HR for the following reasons. 

  • Checking the state of the company
  • Creating and sustaining an excellent employer brand
  • Looking for new ways to boost employee retention rates

Benefits of Exit Interviews?

While it might be tempting to allow an employee to depart quietly, especially during times of heightened emotions such as anger or disappointment, your organization should resist this urge. Why? Because exit interviews are crucial for two main reasons:

Exposing Structural/Cultural Concerns

Departing employees are usually more open to discussing the issues they observe within the company. With no concerns about how their criticism might affect their careers, they become more forthcoming. Exit interview inquiries provide a chance to delve into corporate and leadership cultures deeply, enabling the identification of potential internal problems.

Keeping a healthy Employer Branding Strategy

Exit interviews serve as a final opportunity to leave a positive impression. Engaging in an open dialogue demonstrates that a company is receptive to criticism, acknowledges its errors, and is committed to enhancing its practices. By attentively listening to departing employees and expressing gratitude, you can leave a lasting positive impression, potentially prompting them to recommend your company in the future.

Are Exit Interviews Necessary in Every Case?

It is best that you always conduct the exit interview no matter if the employee has quit on his/her own or if he/she was fired. Regardless of whether the employee had a valid reason to leave or not, the employee will generally be able to find something constructive for your team to use. 

In the event that things get bitter, it is worthwhile to determine whether an exit interview is useful or not. In some cases, it might be better to let the matter lie low. Context is always key.

What An Exit Interview Should Cover?

First, it would be useful to state the purpose of the conversation and the subjects that are going to be discussed beforehand with the employee. This will allow them to prepare themselves and you will get a better quality of answers. 

Therefore, it is important to let the person know that you are going to be engaging them in a conversation which is 

  • Open 
  • Completely confidential 
  • Prioritized their convenience

When Should An Exit Interview Be Conducted?

The ideal timing for an exit interview is during the employee’s final days at the company. At this point, notice has been given, and with the potential for a new role on the horizon, there’s a prime opportunity for a fair, reflective, and objective conversation. It’s advisable for the interview to take place after a job reference has been provided to prevent biased responses.

Where Should An Exit Interview Be Conducted?

Exit Interviews should be conducted under ‘’neutral circumstances ‘’ which is like in a separate place. The conversation with the Human Resources department should be friendly so that the employee does not have a feeling that they are being interrogated Use a checklist that should contain the questions that you need to ask to ensure that you touch on all the necessary issues. Be sure to note down responses from the employee.

Should The Employee Complete The Questionnaire By Themselves?

Absolutely not. Employees may be hesitant to express certain opinions in writing, which could hinder your ability to obtain genuine insights from them.

Informal conversations, guided by a questionnaire, often yield more valuable information than overly formalized processes.

Strive to delve into the employee’s thoughts and motivations during the discussion, supplementing with relevant follow-up questions. However, it’s crucial not to push too hard or exert undue pressure. If an employee chooses not to comment on a topic, it’s essential to respect their decision.

Adhere to the standard protocol for feedback sessions by refraining from commenting on or judging the statements made by the employee.

Five Common Pitfalls For Exit Interviews

Like any other event in life, there are some mistakes most employers make during an exit interview. 

Here are some of the common mistakes: 

Mistake 1: Mixing up the purpose of the exit interview with other discussions.

Why It Matters – There must be a clear separation of the exit interview from the rest of the offboarding process. These interviews should not be considered as dismissal meetings which are strict, formal, and usually conducted in the presence of a representative from the company. Secondly, they should not form part of handover with colleagues and supervisors in the workplace. The moment an Exit interview gets combine with other agenda like handover process or has other agendas attached to it, the aspect of confidence and openness is lost. 

Mistake 2: Including supervisors in the exit interview process.

Why It Matters – Direct or indirect supervisors should not be in exit interviewing. A last meeting with bosses is far from an exit interview even if that is what it is termed. The ideal situation in this case would be simple chit-chat; the worst, a confrontation. They only make sense if you conduct them with an impartial third party, ideally the company’s HR, otherwise, the information you will receive will be far from the truth. 

Mistake 3: Breaching confidentiality

Why It Matters – It should assess the findings within the HR department. It is recommended that only summary results and generalized information about the employees should be provided to the supervisors or managers. In small organizations where few resignations occur, anonymity in results might be challenging. Consequently, distributing meeting notes may seem logical. However, this should be avoided at all costs. If it does happen, the anger of the departing employee might be the lesser evil compared to the consequences of employees learning that confidential criticisms from exit interviews are being circulated. This revelation could discourage honest feedback from employees in the future.

Mistake 4: Failing to follow up on feedback.

Why It Matters – If valuable insights gained from exit interviews are not acted upon, employees may feel that their feedback was disregarded, leading to decreased morale and trust in the organization.

Mistake 5: Not providing closure or gratitude.

Why It Matters – Employees who feel unappreciated or unresolved may harbor negative feelings towards the company, impacting their perception and potential recommendations in the future. Providing closure and expressing gratitude can help leave a positive final impression.

15 Questions You Can Ask During An Exit Interview

What are the suggested questions during an exit interview with an employee? When completing this structured questionnaire, one should focus on the important points and obtain material that can be used for evaluation. 

If you are well-prepared, you can go for the discussion calmly, thus eliminate the chances of having a strained or shallow conversation. In other words, it makes for a productive process. 

The following are some of the basic exit interview sample questions you can use in your company; 

Question 1:  Why do u decided to leave the company?

Purpose:  If it is voluntary, this can provide a rationale for why the specific employee is leaving. 

Question 2: How could things have been different to make you stay?

Purpose: This may help in future staff retention even if there is nothing that can be done now. 

Question 3: Have you previously expressed any criticisms, and how do you feel they were addressed?

Purpose: Did an employee not receive attention, or did he/she not feel that he/she was understood because structures interfered with communication? This can help find out easily to determine. 

Question 4:  What was your experience with onboarding? 

Purpose: This question can assist in determining whether an organization is ready and prepared to set its employees up for success as soon as they join the company. 

Question 5:  Can you describe your rapport with your manager or supervisor?

Purpose: Find out if the key areas of relationships or supervision require modification. 

Question 6: How would you characterize the team atmosphere?

Purpose:  Is the organizational culture impacting staff retention negatively? Determine if our culture needs maintenance or improvement.

Question 7: Did the interview process align with your expectations for the role?

Purpose: This can help to reveal if there is a lack of enhancement in your sourcing or hiring procedures. 

Question 8: Did you feel that a suitable career path was outlined for you?

Purpose: Is the employee leaving due to performance? Could you have supported planning for an employee’s development more effectively? 

Question 9: Would you recommend your friend to work in our organization?

Purpose: In your employer branding, how confident are you that ex-employees would recommend potential applicants to your company? 

Question 10: Could you describe the corporate culture of the company? 

Purpose: This could assist in determining if you need to articulate, enhance, or discover how to operationalize the company values or the corporate culture. 

Question 11: What insights can we gather directly from you to improve retention efforts?

Purpose: By asking directly to the employee, you can get more insights from the source. 

Question 12: What considerations should we bear in mind when recruiting your replacement?

Purpose: Get to learn the areas that this role may require or perhaps, get to know the areas that can have this role enhanced. 

Question 13: How satisfied were you with the support and resources provided for your professional development?

Purpose: Assess the adequacy of resources and support for employee growth and skill enhancement.

Question 14: Did you feel that your contributions and achievements were recognized and appreciated adequately?

Purpose: Gauge the level of recognition and appreciation within the organization and identify areas for improvement in employee recognition programs.

Question 15: Were there any specific challenges or obstacles you encountered during your time with the company that you believe could be addressed to improve overall employee satisfaction?

Purpose: Identify potential pain points or areas of improvement within the company that may impact employee satisfaction and retention.

Keep in mind that there is a list of quite different topics in these exit interview questions. The utilization of exit interviews should not just revolve around the employee leaving. This is the best time for you to acquire an understanding of all aspects of the employee lifecycle. These will then influence retention and hopefully improve it, too.

Should The Same Questions Be Used In Every Exit Interview?

Yes. Using the same questions helps the consistency of the evaluation and analysis of the results. It is good to be well-prepared beforehand. 

It means that if the same criticisms come up based on the same questions, it could be an immediate sign that something is wrong. Secondly, it assists in verifying if some of the measures that have been put in place are later seen in feedback from other former employees.

In general, maintaining such consistency in these processes means having efficient best practices to follow when handling the offboarding process. Therefore, any tool or system in the role of HR software can be very helpful because : 

  • It can store questionnaires
  • A record of all the findings can be kept
  • It can check that each and every step in the process is being done systematically.

Consider Integrating Exit Interviews With Your Offboarding Process

It is not in your control for employees to leave because it can happen at any time. 

But how you offboard them is entirely within your capability. It is important to note that while structured exit interviews are great to include, you need to make sure that the overall process is seamless. 

With FastLane, you can ensure that offboarding is as efficient as onboarding. You can streamline your offboarding process and gain valuable insights from our experts. Ensure a seamless transition for departing employees and improve your organizational strategy today. Contact us now!