Why Is Conducting Exit Interviews And Surveys Important
The hiring process is expensive and can take a long time. If at the end of it you employ people who stay with your company only briefly:
- You waste time and money on recruitment
- Every time someone leaves, a bit of company knowledge or process goes with them
- Leavers may also be detractors, affecting your company reputation
By providing departing employees with the opportunity to give honest feedback, you can gather valuable insights to improve the employee experience for both current and future employees.
Typically, only about a third of employees leaving an organization complete an exit interview. Given the potential richness of exit information, all employers would benefit from encouraging every leaver to respond to exit surveys.
An exit survey is a means to an end. The goal is not to prevent the employee from leaving. Instead, it is to learn and use it to gain insights to help retain talent, prevent bad hires, improve management practices, and ultimately drive better organizational performance.
It really does pay dividends in the long run to invest time, energy, and care into finding out why people are leaving, in order to minimize future attrition.
What Is An Employee Exit Interview
An exit interview is a meeting with a terminating employee that is generally conducted by a human resources staff member. The exit interview provides your organization with the opportunity to obtain frank and honest feedback from the employee who is leaving your employment.
Managers and supervisors are also encouraged to conduct exit interviews with employees who are leaving the organization. These interviews with an exiting employee can provide information that the manager can use to avoid losing additional employees. And, when trust exists between the manager and the employee who is exiting the organization, the employee exit interview feedback is useful for organizational improvement and development.
The exit interview is an integral component of your employment ending process because the information you obtain can make major improvements in your organization. In some organizations, the exit interview is conducted as a part of the employment termination meeting in addition to the rest of the steps on the employment termination checklist.
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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Other Things To Consider
While its generally best to conduct an exit interview in-person , there are times when it wont be possible or make sense to do so.
In those cases, you can ask departing employees to fill out the exit interview survey themselves and send it to you for review. The feedback you receive may not go as deeply into their issues, but its still better to ask for their thoughts than receive nothing at all.
If time allows, you can also use the 5 whys technique above to ask them for a little more detail in some of their answers. Go through their feedback and if anything screams out for more detail, flag it in a comment and say can you explain this a little more? or simply ask why?
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Exit Interview Do’s And Don’ts
With a robust job market percolating along, you may be thinking about changing jobs.
If youll be quitting, youll likely be told to go to an exit interview before hightailing it out. I cant emphasize enough how important it is to do this right. Say the wrong things and you could harm your career if you either want to get a reference from your nearly-ex employer or one day decide you want to come back.
Ill give you a few pointers in a moment, based on my own experience and my interviews with eight career consultants and HR pros who spoke on and off the record.
Ive resigned from five jobs during my career, and each time I dreaded the exit interview. In many ways, it was more nerve-wracking than the interview I had before being offered the job. In three exit interviews, my gut urged me to shout, Im outta here! and bare my soul about why I was jumping ship. I fancied that I wanted to help my soon-to-be former colleagues by letting the powers that be know what theyd better fix if they didnt want to lose more employees like me.
But my head, thankfully, told me to zip my lip. And, boy, am I glad I did. Im still regularly hired to work as an expert columnist and writer for former employers and bosses from my previous staff positions.
What HR Wants From an Exit Interview
My advice: Proceed with caution, or your words can haunt you down the road.
Closing the Door on a Future Relationship
5 Tips for Exit Interviews
For your next exit interview, follow these five tips:
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How To Gain Maximum Insight From Exit Interviews And Surveys
Where Should An Employee Exit Interview Occur
An exit interview should occur on neutral ground, like in a separate meeting room. A one-on-one conversation with a colleague from the HR department should create a good atmosphere in which the employee can open up without feeling like they are being interrogated. Use a questionnaire to guide the discussion so that you can be sure to cover all the topics that you feel are relevant. Take notes on the employees answers.
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What To Do After The Exit Interview
Following an exit interview, the HR manager or interviewer should go over their notes, summarize the results, and examine the data obtained. An in-depth assessment of the answers provided by the departing employee will reveal what your organization is doing effectively and what needs to improve if you want to keep your best staff.
Make use of the information you’ve obtained to make your organization a better place to work. Create an action plan to tackle and strengthen your retention techniques once you’ve identified repeated issues and obstacles.
We suggest that the exit interview data should be compiled regularly so that the organization can evaluate and analyze key trends. If the exit interview is based on ratings and scores, measurements can be developed at each annual review to assess if the improvements yield the required outcomes.
How To Conduct An Exit Interview
Organizations may be tempted to skip a few exit interviews here and there, especially if theyre busy but dont. This is one of the few opportunities to gauge your companys health at the most basic level. Make it a point to conduct an exit interview with every person who leaves your company, regardless of whether they have worked for you for ten years, one year, or two weeks.
More importantly, exit interviews must be conducted by an independent third party to remove biases. Studies have shown that responses to exit interview questions change dramatically when presented by the employer versus a third party. This potential for receiving biased answers from former employees when interviewed internally can limit your companys efforts to learn from exit interview data.
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Someone Put In Their Resignation Notice Hoo Boy Heres How To Conduct An Exit Interview That Is Useful Graceful And Candid
How to conduct an exit interview? I recently was asked this by an executive who is a 1:1 leadership coaching client of mine. Hed become the CEO of his company only a month ago, and it was the first time someone had resigned since hed assumed his new role.
Congrats was the first thing I told him. And no, I wasnt being facetious. While someone resigning might not seem like a moment worthy of congrats, its an important milestone to take note of. When someone leaves, you send a message about how you want to treat everyone at your company not just the people who join.
Additionally, an exit interview is a singular chance to understand your team and your company on a closer level: Who knows better what can be improved in your organization other than a person who is choosing to leave it?
The question is: How to conduct an exit interview that actually elicits a candid perspective from the person whos leaving? One that actually is steeped in deep reflection, and doesnt come from a reactionary fear of saying the wrong thing or burning bridges.
Based on conversations with hundreds of managers and executives who Ive coached both formally and informally, and the research weve done specifically on exit interview best practices, heres how to conduct an exit interview.
The State Of Exit Interviews
Too often EI programs fail to either improve retention or produce useful information. Weve identified two reasons why. The first is data quality. The usefulness of an EI depends utterly on the honesty and forthrightness of the departing employee. People may be less than candid on their way out the door for many reasons. Some feel pressed for time or unmotivated to explore their feelings. They may not want to say anything negative about a supervisor they like, or anything at all about a supervisor they dont like. As one HR leader at a European mining company puts it, Are they really going to tell you theyre leaving because they dont like their boss? Probably not, because they want references.
The second reason is a lack of consensus on best practices. The goals, strategies, and execution of EI programs vary widely, and the findings and recommendations from empirical studies are often vague or conflicting. But in our view, the deepest problem is that many organizations use EI programs as an excuse not to have meaningful retention conversations with current employees.
To get a clearer sense of the state of EI processes and outcomes, in 2012 and 2013 we surveyed 188 executives and interviewed 32 senior leaders. They represented 210 organizations in 33 industries, headquartered in more than 35 countries. Many interviewees were personally responsible for leading the exit process at their companies, and some reported on their own experience of leaving an organization.
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Pay Close Attention While Conducting The Exit Interview
We highly advise that the interviewer pay close attention to what employees say during a departure discussion and ask many questions. This can assist you in making sure you understand what they’re saying and reading their body language correctly to reveal their actual feelings. It is also good to follow the following best practices for exit interviews:
Be empathetic by listening to what the employee is expressing without reacting.
Jot down everything the employee says so that you have a record. This also shows that you are interested in the information provided by the staff.
Finish the exit interview meeting on a polite and optimistic note. Thank the employee for their honesty and input, and pledge to use the information to make your workplace better.
Wish them well for their new adventure.
Doing all of the above can get you more information and input than you would have otherwise.
Final Thoughts On Exit Interviews
Exit interviews are a very useful HR tool for gaining valuable insights into a companys ability to attract and retain the best employees.
However, you shouldnt rely on exit interviews as the only source of information about employee experience in your company.
You should conduct recurring employee interviews, check-ins and surveys in order to get feedback and obtain data on employee experience, job satisfaction, employee engagement and employee retention in your company.
Here are some useful resources to help you get started with these useful HR practices:
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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.
Dont Lead The Conversation Guide It
As the interviewer, you might feel a temptation to lead the conversation to the topics you badly want to talk about. This is especially true of founders, who often feel passionately about the business they have built and have strong ideas about how they think it should be run.
However, its a mistake to seize control of this conversation. By all means, guide it to the topics you think might be relevant, but the goal is to hear what the leaver has to say – so let them take the interview where they want to take it.
You may find that it yields unexpected and surprising answers.
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When Should Exit Interview Feedback Not Be Kept Confidential
There are certain circumstances where the feedback may not remain confidential. These reasons should be made clear to the employee before the exit interview, while some employers may choose to launch an internal investigation or legal proceedings, with the consent of the employee who shared the information.
- With reports of harassment
- Do keep the conversation relaxed
- Dont engage in unconstructive feedback
- Dont dwell on the specifics of an event
- Dont give your own opinions
- Dont force questions employees arent comfortable answering
- Dont use exit interviews as a method for retaining a specific member of staff
How to summarise exit interview results Summarising the feedback is one of the most crucial parts of the exit interview process. It allows you to implement the feedback into actionable steps and improve the business. The summary notes should be digitally recorded and categorised for ease of use.
A Guide To Conducting Effective And Useful Exit Interviews
Exit interviews are incredibly useful tools for retention and employee engagement and satisfaction. It is worth noting that they are reactive tools rather than proactive, as in you are getting this information after someone has already made the decision to leave. However, you can use this information to support employee’s still with you.
There is no legal requirement to do an exit interview, but we do recommend them for the valuable insight you get.
This article will explore how to conduct one, examples of good questions, what do to with the results, and where they may not be appropriate.
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What Is Your Reason For Leaving This Position
This is one of the most common exit interview questions. Employers ask this question to suss out if youre leaving for a better opportunity, personal reasons, or something else. Here, its important to strike a balance between honesty and politeness. Try to mention the skills or experience youre hoping to gain from your next job to give your employer clarity on what they could do differently. But keep in mind, if youre quitting without another job lined up or youre more private, you dont have to give a specific reason something like my wants and needs at work have changed will suffice.
Im so grateful for my experience here, but I found another opportunity that better suits my career goals and allows for more growth opportunities. Ill be taking on a leadership position at my next company, and due to our internal promotion process, I knew that wouldnt be feasible for me here.
Ive really enjoyed working here and have made life-long friends, but I feel like its time for me to go in a different direction where I can better hone my skills. Ive gained invaluable experience for the future, and now Im looking for a company thats going to invest in my professional development and offer on-site skills courses.
Who When How & Where: Prerequisites For An Exit Interview
One on one conversation: Ideally, the interview should take place between the employee and a neutral colleague .
The timing: The interview should take place during one of the employees last workdays. In the best case, you can hand over the official reference, too.
The briefing: Prepare your colleague for the conversation. Explain the goal and what you will discuss. Emphasize the open and honest character of the discussion by stating that you want to hear their personal opinion.
At my place or yours: Neither find a neutral place for the interview. The best location is a room with a comfortable atmosphere.
Please Dont: The Absolute No-Gos for Exit Interviews
Inviting the manager: Neither the direct nor the indirect manager should be at the exit interview unless you dont care about getting honest feedback.
Breaching confidentiality: The results ought to stay in the HR department and be analysed there. The management should only receive anonymised, summarised reports.
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