what is an exit interview?
An exit interview can be simply described as a formal discussion between two people: an organisation representative and an employee leaving the organisation.
Exit interviews are standard for most organisations with good HR processes. They offer the employee a chance to explain what they enjoyed about their job and what the organisation could look to improve.
why are exit interviews important?
Exit interviews are essential in that they:
- Offer employees a chance to speak to the management about areas requiring improvement
- Help employers understand what specific conditions in the organisation caused the employee to leave
- Provide time and opportunity for the organisation to collect feedback on where to improve
how are exit interviews conducted?
Exit interviews can take place through different approaches. Here are the three primary methods of conducting exit interviews:
This is currently one of the most common methods of approaching exit interviews. Since the emergence of COVID-19, many employers have opted to conduct interviews remotely: either by phone or via video platforms such as Zoom or MS Teams.
This is the original method of conducting exit interviews. The meeting would take place with both parties - the leaving employee and an organisation rep, such as an HR manager - physically present. The employee would state why they wished to leave the organisation and the manager would take note of where to improve on their employee operations.
paper or online survey
This is the best option if you want to preserve anonymity. An employee exiting an organisation fills out a form, having an opportunity to air out their views and opinions on the organisation.
Despite it enhancing anonymity, the method has no guarantee that the form will be completed (online) or returned by the employee (if paper based), so it’s not the most reliable method.
participation and completion rates.
To get the highest completion rates possible, in most cases, exit interviews occur the week prior to an employee’s departure.
The rates of completion of exit interviews are dependent on the method used to conduct the interview. A method like a paper survey is more likely to have very low completion rates, so it isn’t used as frequently—according to HBR, only 4.4% of companies use questionnaires.
why employees might not participate in an exit interview
Employees may fail to complete or participate in your exit interview because:
- The interview is too long
- The interview questions are too personal
- They feel that the interview won’t lead to any meaningful changes
- The employee is afraid of actions the company might take against them
good exit interview tips.
While you can’t always predict how an interview will go, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your discussions with leaving employees.
use a neutral third party
If you want to ensure you gain true insights into the exiting employee’s experience, you should not get their direct line manager to conduct the interview. Our experience suggests a manager from another team completely disconnected from this employee is the best way to provide an opportunity for the employee to relax and open up about their experience.
When planning to hold an exit interview, ensure you’ve informed the exiting employee ahead of time. This will prepare the employee both physically and mentally. While communicating with the employee on the date of the interview, you can also attach a file with the interview questions. This will ensure things go as smoothly as possible, as they will know what will be discussed and how to prepare.
make it voluntary
Not all your employees wish to partake in the exit interview. While it’s advisable to request that employees participate in the interview, ensure that they know it’s not compulsory. You aren’t likely to get useful information out of an unwilling participant.
ask the right questions
To get the most out of your interview, make sure you’re asking the right questions. While this will vary depending on your organisation, questions should generally focus on areas like their reason for departure, information about their new position (if applicable), and their comfort level with management.
questions you can ask during exit interviews
As we mentioned above, you need to ask the right questions during an exit interview. Here are a few examples:
- What is your main reason for leaving the company?
- What did you like/dislike about the organisation?
- Would you recommend our organisation to someone looking for a place to work?
- What would you look to improve if you were managing this team/company?
expand your knowledge with hireful.
Exit interviews are an unfortunate part of life. Hopefully, you hire the right staff and they grow and develop with your company.
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