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7 Ways To Get The Most Out Of An Exit Interview

8 min read
7 Ways To Get The Most Out Of An Exit Interview

The idea of conducting an exit interview may seem like a matter of inconvenience to you.

After all, why invest anything-be it time or resources- for someone who is planning to leave your organization anyway.

Between the grief of having to replace the steady trickle of employees leaving and hiring for new talents, conducting such interviews might be the last thing on your mind.

But here’s a little inside secret for you. Conducting exit interviews is supposed to be for your benefit.

Let’s take a step back and understand what does an exit interview really means.

An exit interview is held with an employee who is about to leave an organization. Typically it is designed to discuss the employee's reasons for leaving and their experience of working for the organization.

Did you know that over 90% of Fortune 500 companies conduct exit interviews? Yet only 40% of them view the practice itself as being successful.

That’s not surprising considering the fact that an average employer views an exit interview as a “corporate ritual” to get it over with. They don’t stop to consider the plethora of benefits that these interviews can bring to the table if implemented correctly.

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Benefits Of Exit Interviews

Here are some of the many benefits of conducting exit interviews at your organization:

Benefit One:Discover the reality of the existing company culture

A company’s culture is built upon its employees: the past as well as the present ones. It can be hard for employees to criticize the work environment when they are being employed by your company. An exiting employee tends to be more honest and forthcoming with their views of their experience in the company.

Benefit Two: Increase employee retention

People leave every day. Nevertheless, it is always a shock when it actually happens.

With an employee’s decision to leave for the greener pastures comes the usual grief of finding a suitable replacement while considering the impact that an exiting employee will have on the team.

Do you know that the reasons why employees leave are constantly changing? Do you have any data to back up the reasons for the high employee turnover? Is it the job description? Or is the low salary the real dealbreaker?

These are just some of the questions that a face to face exit interview will help you to make sense of.

Benefit Three:Gain Constructive Feedback

When done well and used effectively, exit interviews will help you to gain valuable insight in the form of feedback. This final form of contribution will prove to be very beneficial in the long run.

Departing employees tend to be more honest, forthcoming and direct in describing the good, the bad and the ugly. More often you may find yourself facing some form of negative feedback. Take it with a grain of salt. Look upon this employee feedback that you receive as a learning opportunity to improve upon.

Benefit Four: Exit Interview Data: Get to know the “patterns”

Don’t just conduct these interviews for the sake of it. An effective exit interview doesn’t try to reverse the resignation. It tries to seek out the patterns for why good employees leave. These very patterns will help you make an outline of the retention strategies through which you can reduce further turnover in your organization.

Benefit Five: Cost-effective

Exit interviews are easy to conduct, generally gets over with really fast, don’t really need a budget and rewards you with a lot of information. In other words, sort of like a magical boon for your company’s human resources department. It is a small investment- of time and resources- which will enable you to reap great rewards.

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7 Ways To Conduct An Effective Exit Interview

Whilst a departing employee may seem like the last person you should try to impress, never forget a crucial point here. Every exiting employee is the best form of “advertisement” that your company can invest in. They might not be a part of your organization anymore but they still will talk about their experience there.

Considering that it makes sense that you provide a departing employee with a farewell experience that shows your company in good light.

If you are worried about how to conduct effective exit interviews, keep these following 7 pointers in mind:

1. Choose the interview format

The ease of conducting an exit interview should be done by keeping both of the parties in mind. For an interviewer, conducting a face to face interview is the best bet to get the most out of an exit interview.

  • Through a face to face interview, you can show that you care about what the exiting employee has to say.
  • A face to face interview will enable the interview to flow like a conversation. This, in turn, will make the interviewee relax enough to provide you with some valuable employee feedback that you can actually work with to improve retention.
  • Nothing says goodbye as a warm handshake and a pat on the back.

However, there’s a downside to it. Not every exiting employee will likely feel comfortable with a face to face interview. Your exit interview is less likely to yield sufficient results if the employee doesn’t actually want to be there!

To combat such scenarios, consider offering a departing employee the alternative to a face to face exit interview. It can be in the form of an online questionnaire or might even be a phone interview.

2. Know What Questions To Ask

It is better to prepare beforehand and know what questions to ask instead of diving in with a bunch of unrelated questions that won’t be any good for future analysis. But try to make the entire interview look unscripted or otherwise, the whole good vibe of the interview will go haywire.

Also, assure the departing employee that the interview is fully confidential and their name will nowhere be disclosed while sharing the exit interview data.

3. Know What Questions To Avoid

No matter what your intentions are and how much you want to ask them, some questions should be avoided at all costs during an exit interview. Try to avoid these following questions:

  • Questions about specific people or team members.
  • Questions related to office gossip and work environment.
  • Downright questions about why they are leaving the company.
  • Questions that try to change their mind about leaving.

Such questions will result in making the employees feel guilty, defensive or just plain unhappy. Ensure that the last thing a departing employee takes from your organization is a positive experience and not a session of feeling cornered and being asked uncomfortable questions.

4. Share The Feedback

To get the most out of an exit interview, you must be able to analyze the exit interview data in a systematic manner. A single exit interview won’t give you any valuable data. But on the other hand, multiple numbers of exit interviews give you real and concise information.

Very often someone other than the hr department may need access to the exit interview data. You may notice a pattern or similar issues when conducting several exit interviews in a row. In this situation, you can explore the employee feedback with the leadership team and get help from the executive on that team to figure out a solution.

5. Keep The Interview Short And Simple

The period of departure is an uncomfortable time for both the employer and the exiting employee.

Whenever possible, the exit interview should be done by someone other than the departing employee’s supervisor. Your best bet is to have someone from the hr department conduct the interview. Hold the interview in a private location (e.g. a conference room) and keep the interview short.

A departing employee will probably not want to be stuck in an hour-long meeting on their last day. Give them the choice of when and how do they want to do their exit interviews. In case of a face to face interview, try to keep the conversation open, honest and to the point.

6. Communicate The Value Of Feedback To The Exiting Employee

Remember that some employees will be hesitant to share honest responses because they worry that negative feedback may lead to a bad reference.

Let the employee know that you will remove identifying information from their feedback when sharing it with others. Give the employee their final check and any required paperwork. Then spend the remainder of the interview asking questions to learn about the employee’s decision to leave.

7. Have Survey Tools At Hand

If you are keen on obtaining exit interview data that will actually be relevant in highlighting the problem areas of your organization, your best option is to conduct exit interviews through an online survey tool.

An online survey tool provides a surplus of benefits such as:

Predefined intelligent questions

You don’t have to fumble around about what questions to ask in the exit interview. An online survey tool makes it easier with a set of predefined questions that will enable you to get the relevant exit interview data.

Faster

The time required to complete an online survey is on average two thirds faster than traditional face to face exit interviews. Thus you can save the time that is otherwise wasted on scheduling the interview, conducting the interview, analyzing the result and so on.

Quicker to analyze

The results of an online survey can be analyzed quickly and look at the real-time analytics of the gathered exit interview data. Respondents input their own data, and it is automatically stored electronically. The analysis thus becomes easier and can be streamlined, and is available immediately.

Vantage Pulse is a data-driven survey tool with a module dedicated to conducting exit interviews. It introduces a questionnaire in a way that appeals to the respondent thus making it easy to follow and inviting to complete. It also helps you to identify the key areas of progress and highlights the problems which may ultimately lead to high turnover rates. What’s more? The questions are short and precise ensuring minimum time-consumption and a much smoother exit experience for the departing employees.

Some Examples Of Exit Interview Questions

Need some help with the possible exit interview questions? Here are some of the most meaningful exit interview questions you can present before your departing employees:

How would you describe your working relationship with your manager?

What could your manager do to improve the company culture?

What was the best thing about your job?

What would you like to change about your job description?

What did you appreciate the most about the organization’s company culture?

What did you think you can improve more in the company culture to create a better workplace?

Did you have sufficient resources and support available while doing your job?

Were your job description correctly explained during the hiring process?

Were you aware of the level of expectations from you?

Did you receive enough constructive feedback?

How can you describe your experience with the organization’s employee feedback process?

Did you feel engaged in our organization?

Did you clearly understand and feel a part of the achievement of the organization’s goals?

Did management help you in achieving your career goals?

What are the key qualities you think the company should seek in your replacement?

Do you think anything should be added or removed from the job description itself?

What would make you consider working for this organization again in the future?

Would you recommend our organization as a good place to work to your friends and family?

To Conclude

One of the best things about exit interviews is how it can give you a chance to see off a person, who was there for you through your struggles, in a heartfelt and meaningful way.

Knowing how can you improve upon that experience further, would only be the icing on the cake. Thus, following the before mentioned 7 tactics would act as an indispensable resource for you to provide a hassle-free and smooth exit interview experience.

Do you know any other ways through which an exit interview becomes an experience to remember? Tell us in the comments below!

  Barasha Medhi is a content writer and marketer at Vantage Circle. She constantly researches ways to improve upon the current corporate culture when not busy petting dogs or exploring new cuisines!