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How Do Exit Interviews Work

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How Was Your Manager

How to Handle the Exit Interview

Why they ask it: Theres a saying: People dont quit jobs. They quit managers. And this is exactly what HR is trying to find out. Did you quit because of your manager?

How to answer it: If your manager was fantastic, say so! Thats a time for open praise and honesty. If, however, you and your manager didnt get along, that could be a time to keep things more general. You can go with something like, We didnt always see eye-to-eye, but we managed to succeed on multiple projects.

Ask Questions And Pay Close Attention In An Exit Interview

You will want to listen carefully to what you are told in an exit interview and make sure that you ask a lot of questions. This will help ensure that you are hearing what the employee is saying and what he or she is not saying, which are both important. It is easy to make a leap of faith and assume that you understand what the employee is describing, but the employee’s words may not accurately convey the employee’s true feelings.

During an exit interview, being attuned to the employee’s subtle differences in meaning is crucial to the usefulness of the information you receive. It’s also best to write down what the employee says because you don’t want to trust your memory. When you write down the responses that your exiting employee provides, the person receives the message that you care about the information that he or she is providing. This, in turn, may allow you to collect more information and feedback than you otherwise may have received.

Example Questions For Exit Interviews

Need a few questions to start that next exit interview? We have compiled a few great examples, used by leaders across the globe

What made you start looking for a new job in the first place?

Why have you decided to leave the organisation?

Did you share your reasons with anyone in the organisation? How did they respond?

What was the state of your relationship with your immediate manager/supervisor?

What could your supervisor do to improve their effectiveness in management?

What do you think about this organisations management and leadership as a whole?

What did you like most about your job?

What did you dislike most about your job?

What would you change about your job?

What did you appreciate about the organisation?

What did you detest about the organisation?

What would you recommend to help the organisation create a better workplace?

Did you have the resources and support necessary to get your job done? If not, what was missing?

Were your job responsibilities correctly described in the job description during the hiring process?

Did you know exactly what was expected of you in your job and have clear goals to achieve?

Did you receive enough feedback about your day-to-day performance on the job?

Did you feel happy and/or engaged in your job?

Did you clearly understand and feel a part of the achievement of the organisations goals?

Did management care about you and help you accomplish your personal and career goals?

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Would You Recommend This Company To Others Seeking Employment

When you answer this question, be straightforward about why you would or would not recommend your employer to someone else. Consider offering suggestions that might make the position more attractive.

Example:It would depend on which positions were open and what that persons career goals might be. I would recommend this company to friends or family if the position matched what they were looking for. A comprehensive benefits package would make the job more appealing.

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If You Had Opportunities To Learn And Grow

40 Best Exit Interview Templates &  Forms á? TemplateLab

According to a Gallup study, 32% of people leave their jobs due to lack of career advancement or promotion opportunities. Youll want to share the extent to which you felt that you had a visible career path within the organization and if you were given opportunities to gain new skills and experiences during your tenure, such as stretch assignments or high-stakes projects, that enabled you to grow in your career. You should also share if your manager regularly provided actionable feedback that allowed you to learn continuously and get better at your job.

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Keep The Interview Consistent Objective And Simple

Exit interviews should be conducted by a member of the People Operations Team or another HR leader. If these roles dont exist in your organization, try using a manager/director from another department. Since a significant number of employees leave because of their relationship with their direct manager, asking managers to conduct exit interviews with their direct reports can create an awkward and potentially inaccurate exit interview. Having someone who wasnt directly involved in the employees day-to-day work life conduct the exit interview will ensure a somewhat objective stance for both parties.

Now for the interview: Keep it short and simple, with just a handful of questions. Interviewers should touch on highlights, lowlights, and recommendations for the future. You can also just let people talk about their experience with the company if they want to. Because the meeting is scheduled for 20 minutes, you know that it wont go too long, and there will usually be a nugget of information that you can learn from. You can then opt to take feedback to the entire leadership team if you have a month with multiple exits or simply present it to the team manager if theres only one exit that month.

Benefit #: Enhance Recruiting

Exit interviews are extremely useful not only for retaining but also for attracting employees.

They provide employers with a unique opportunity to find out what swayed their employees to accept a job offer from another company.

By using the obtained information, employers can adjust and improve their employee value proposition and use it as a magnet for attracting new talent.

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How Could Management Improve

There were a number of things that management did really well. Expectations and roles were clearly defined. I always knew that I had the support of my team and really valued the comradeship that was fostered at Company X. If I had to give one area for improvement I would say that I sometimes felt that I didnt have the creative freedom to explore new and better ways of doing things.

Exit Interview Questions Examples


Here is my selection of the best and most commonly used exit interview question examples:

  • What did you like most about your job?

  • What did you dislike the most about your job?

  • How would you describe your relationship with your supervisor?

  • How enjoyable was to work with your colleagues?

  • Were you happy with your pay, benefits and other incentives?

  • What prompted you to start looking for another job?

  • What made you accept another job offer?

  • Would you recommend our company to your friend as a great place to work?

  • What could be done to make this company a better place to work?

  • What skills and qualifications do you think we should look for in your replacement?

  • If youre looking for more great exit interview question examples, check out our Complete list of the best exit interview questions.

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    Exit Interview Tips And Best Practices

    This list of tips and best practices will help you streamline a successful exit interview process.

    1. What to say in an exit interview

    Its important to phrase questions and responses correctly to achieve the results you want in an exit interview.

    Open-ended questions are incredibly important since it allows people to give a more personal response that you cant get from yes or no types of questions.

    Make sure your interviewee knows that youre looking for honest feedback and that their answers wont reflect on future references from the company.

    Ask targeted questions, but also allow the interviewee to lead as much of the conversation as they feel comfortable with.

    2. Dont let the questionnaire take over

    Yes, you do need to keep a list of questions to cover during an exit interview. However, there are plenty of valuable insights you can gain that might not be specifically covered in your questionnaire.

    Let the questions lead the conversation, but dont cut off your interviewee when responses lead to other relevant topics being brought up. You may find that some of your most unexpected information comes from organic conversation.

    3. Follow up after the interview

    Likewise, if there are answers that management feels are especially helpful, you can follow up with a call or email to get expanded feedback.

    4. Keep the pressure off

    Keep the atmosphere relaxed, casual, and open so that your soon-to-be former employee can answer all questions fully and truthfully.

    With The Wrong Questions

    What are typical exit interview questions? Let’s check the Big Book Of Exit Interview Questions:

    • why are you leaving?
    • how would you rate ?

    Contrast with these questions:

    • Do you have everything you need to do your job?
    • Is your work sufficiently challenging and meaningful? If not, what would need to change to make it so?
    • If you could think of one or two things that any other company could offer you that would make you seriously consider working for them, what would they be?

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    Do I Have To Do An Exit Interview

    Exit interviews are entirely voluntary, so its up to you whether you take part or not.

    You might request an interview because youve enjoyed working for the organisation and youd like to pass on positive feedback, Kavenagh says.

    You might be leaving the company on really good terms and you’ve got some great feedback to provide and say thank you, and you’d like to pass on that gratitude. Often people do it because they care.

    Exit Interviews: Actionable Feedback

    40 Best Exit Interview Templates &  Forms á? TemplateLab

    Exit interviews will provide a wealth of insights and actionable data that you can use to progress the organization: from improving the hiring process, refining job descriptions, through to enhancements to workplace design, internal communications or company culture.

    Feedback from exit interviews should be aggregated and anonymized. Trends and issues should be reported to management on a regular basis, preferably quarterly, and action taken to address concerns where appropriate. Sometimes its an easy fix such as gripes about the air-con temperature being too high or low or complaints around poor kitchen facilities. Other times the issues will be more difficult to resolve with concerns voiced around leadership and management or aspects of the company culture. However, senior managers need to be aware of all the feedback both positive and negative so that they can set about continuously improving the company.

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    Should Exit Interviews Occur For Voluntary And Involuntary Termination

    You should conduct an employee exit interview regardless of whether the employee resigned or was terminated. Even if the employee had no reason to leave, they will likely still be able to come up with some constructive feedback that your team can use.

    Dont Forget: If things are ending on bad terms, though, it is best to decide on a case-by-case basis whether an exit interview makes sense. In some cases, it may be smarter to simply let the matter rest. Context is key.

    Ask The Employee To Complete A Written Survey

    Consider asking the exiting employee to complete a written survey before your meeting. This will provide them with the opportunity to think about their responses in advance. You may find that the employee is actually more open in a written survey because they feel more comfortable. Plus, when you are able to read their thoughts prior to your meeting, you can develop questions that guide the conversation.

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    Create Lifelong Advocates For The Organization

    Treat departing employees with respect and gratitude. That may encourage them to recommend their former companies to potential employees, to use and recommend the companies products and services, and to create business alliances between their former and new employers. You want to leave as an ambassador and customer, said one North American financial services executive.

    For Many Businesses These Are The Only Moments Where Those Honest Conversations Do Happen

    Get Insight From Exit Interviews

    Still, there are various reasons for workers moving on to participate, they agree. For one, it can make the employee look professional, agree both Pringle and Cotton, and leave a good final impression. And, adds Cotton, its nice to be nice.

    Part of that niceness extends to creating a better environment for the people remaining at the company. Ben Branson-Gateley, CEO and co-founder of CharlieHR, a London-based HR software company, believes its important to do the good deed for the remaining employees, since itll be useful and helpful for them.

    This can be particularly true in highly problematic work cultures, where issues like harassment or sexism may continue to affect colleagues well after one worker leaves. These kinds of red-flag issues are important to bring up so the company can look into and take action on them, says Pringle.

    It may well be that other team members are experiencing the same, adds Cotton. And your experience may not benefit you. It will benefit the company. And it will benefit the colleagues who are around you.

    For many businesses, these are the only moments where those honest conversations do happen, says Branson-Gateley.

    and a good time be selfish and strategic

    You should think hard about what you want from an exit interview before deciding how much to open up, experts say

    But if the workers primary goal for an exit interview is a little bit of release, then saying nothing or being genial may not be in their best interests.

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    When Is The Best Time To Conduct One

    There is some debate around when is the best time to conduct an exit interview.

    Many companies choose to conduct them as a routine part of the offboarding process during an employees last week on the job. Some employers do them several weeks or even months after the individual leaves, either by phone or online survey.

    The most important point to consider regarding timing is how heated the departure was in terms of emotions and conflict with other members of the organization. If the exit was, shall we say, rough, then it might be a good idea to conduct the interview a few weeks after the employee has left, so the dust has settled and they can provide their feedback with a calm perspective.

    If it was a smooth departure, then conducting the interview during the employees final week is suitable.

    Exit Interviews Pros And Cons

    Lets start with the Cons:

    • Outgoing employees are not always candid about their reasons for leaving, whether thats because they dont want to burn any bridges or because theyre not emotionally invested in the company any longer.
    • If the employee does have strong negative feelings, exit interviews can get tense or heatedespecially if the interviewer takes offense.
    • If the company doesnt have a formal exit interview structure, it can be difficult to identify trends among departing employees.
    • Likewise, if the company fails to organize and analyze the information theyve gathered, then theres essentially no purpose in conducting the interviews.

    Now lets get to the Pros:

    • Outgoing employees can offer a unique perspective on company culture and employee satisfaction. They can be more honest in identifying issues within the company than a current employee who fears repercussions.
    • Departing employees have been researching and interviewing with other companiesoften competitors. So, they can provide insights into the perks and advantages that drew them to those competitors. This information is extremely useful for recruiters.
    • Provides information that can help companies identify good and bad managerswhat managers keep coming up among employees reasons for leaving? What managers are seeing the most turnover?

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    Putting It All Together

    If you had a wonderful working experience and really are leaving for a better fit or promotion elsewhere, then following this exit interview advice will be easy.

    If, however, you had a Powerpoint Payback presentation all fleshed out with graphs and photos depicting the state of affairs at your old job, it may be harder to give the professional, kind, positive exit interview described here.

    Take a deep breath, throw the Powerpoint into the bin, and spend some time developing a more positive headspace. You will be glad you did.

    For more information be sure to check out our two companion articles: how to quit your job and how to write a resignation letter!

    Good luck!

    Who Should Conduct Exit Interviews

    FREE 5+ Exit Interview Forms in PDF

    The best practice is to have your Human Resources specialist conducting the exit interviews. Human Resources professionals are usually trained in conducting interviews and have the right skills and appropriate experience.

    However, small companies usually dont have a dedicated HR professional who could conduct an exit interview. In this case, the company should appoint someone other than the leaving employees direct supervisor to conduct the exit interview.

    The supervisor’s relationship with the employee often influences the leaving employees willingness to give honest feedback.

    For example, a bad relationship with a supervisor might be the reason why an employee decided to leave the company.In the case when a supervisor and employee have a great relationship, a leaving employee can restrain from providing honest feedback in order to ensure that their relationship with their supervisor will end on a positive note.

    Finally, here is my most important tip for choosing the right person to conduct an exit interview in your company:Make sure that the person you choose to conduct an exit interview is perceived by a leaving employee as fair, objective and interested to hear what the employee has to say.

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    Sample Exit Interview Questions

    This is the heart of the interview. Dont ask so many questions that the meeting goes on for hours, leaving both participants exhausted. Instead, try and focus on the following four key areas to elicit the most useful feedback:

    • reasons for leaving
    • personal relationships with managers and peers
    • tools of the trade and workplace environment
    • company culture.

    It is quick and easy to develop your own exit interview template using the company intranets in-built forms builder or an . Alternatively, here is a downloadable checklist of sample exit interview questions that you can use or adapt to suit your own requirements. Use the questions below to guide the discussions in the exit interview. Theres no need to stick to them rigidly sometimes the conversation will take you off in unexpected directions and so its important to be flexible.

    Here are the list of questions available as a Word document or PDF file: Exit-Interview-Sample-Questions.docx / Exit-Interview-Sample-Questions.pdf

    17. Would you recommend the company to others as being a good place to work?

    18. Did you feel as though you understood the companys goals and your contribution towards their achievement?

    19. What are your views on the companys management and leadership style as a whole?

    20. Is there anything else you would like to discuss about your reasons for leaving and how the company could improve?

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