Exit interviews are sometimes perfunctory or haphazard on the part of employers. The mindset may be that an employee is leaving the organization … they already have one foot out the door and really, what do they have to offer at this point? But a well-constructed exit interview can provide key insight into your company culture, dysfunctions, and opportunities to improve your talent retention record.

Why Exit Interviews?

Proper exit interviews are an excellent tool for learning about your organizational strengths and weaknesses, as well as those unique to various members of your management team. The information you garner can help you understand how to best satisfy, engage and keep good employees.

  • Find out the real catalyst to an employee’s departure. Once you know the answer, you can decide which corrective actions, if any, to take. If you spot patterns in why people are leaving, then you’re really onto something.
  • Build engagement. Use interview feedback to examine your work processes and ensure that your business remains healthy and is a draw for high-performing talent to contribute, add value and build for a mutually beneficial future.

Who Should Conduct Them?

In order to get solid information, it’s important that an exit interviewer remain as objective as possible. If they become biased, defensive or emotional, the employee is more likely to distort their answers or worse yet, clam up and not talk at all.

  • A neutral person from HR or a third-party vendor should conduct exit interviews. Avoid using the departing employee’s supervisor as there may be issues – either obvious or underlying – that will hamper the process.

When Should They Be Conducted?

The best time to do an exit interview is anywhere from a month to a year after a person has left their position. By this time, they’ve gained a more objective and less emotional perception of their experience at your company.

  • When the interview is done after someone has already left the organization, chances are better that criticism will be constructive. Management no longer holds any power over former employees and they’re in a better position to be completely honest and open about their reasons for leaving.

Setting Expectations

For the best possible outcomes, set clear expectations for exit interviews.

  • Communicate with participants. Request that they have an exit interview and reassure them that their participation is completely optional. Give them an overview of the process and let them know who will interview them.
  • Build trust and emphasize confidentiality. Tell participants the reasons for their exit interview, how information will be used and who will have access to it.

To maximize the value of exit interviews and further hone your best strategies for talent management, retention and engagement, read our related posts or contact our recruitment and workforce development experts today.