What You Liked Most About Your Job And The Company
Include positive elements of your experience at the organization what you liked and appreciated most about the job, your team, and the organization. Just as individuals need to hear positive feedback to know what they should continue doing, so do organizations. This could include specific benefits offered, investments made in your learning and development, or an aspect of the company culture that you most valued.
Why Exit Interviews Are Important For Employers
There are several reasons why employers should treat exit interviews as more than a mere box-ticking exercise. Firstly, making a genuine effort to understand why an employee has chosen to leave helps to promote goodwill and ensure that the relationship ends on a positive note. Whats more, the feedback gathered from this interview is highly valuable because it allows your organisation to get another perspective on the workplace culture, daily processes, management solutions, and staff morale. These insights can then be used to guide ongoing improvements to recruitment and retention activities. On a more practical note, exit interviews provide an opportunity to tie up administrative loose ends.
What Were Your Greatest Accomplishments And Greatest Challenges
Anna Oakes, Quartz’s head of people, offers a related tip on keeping the conversation non-confrontational.
“I would encourage it to be a dialogue about the highs and lows of the job, rather than focusing on the end point,” she advises, suggesting questions like, “What are you most proud of? What are the accomplishments that you were writing on your resume about this job? And what were some of the challenges you had to overcome that you’ve learned from?”
This more positive spin isn’t just to spare people’s feelings. It’s a way around our natural reluctance to deliver negative feedback and can spur “a tremendous amount of feedback to the manager,” according to Oakes.
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What Suggestions Do You Have For The Company How Could We Improve
From suggestions about management style, compensation and benefits to which snacks to stock in the kitchen, its important to consider all types of feedback. While you may not be able to make all proposed changes, knowing what employees find important will help you determine how to improve workplace morale and prevent other employees from leaving for similar reasons.
Choose A Method Of How You Want To Conduct The Interview
There are two common ways of conducting an exit interview. In one scenario you can simply talk through your questions. Alternatively, you can provide a written form that an employee can complete.
You can choose either of these methods, or you can choose to combine both where you provide the employee with a form to fill out then discuss their answers.
To make sure you get a strong overall picture try and group your questions into these five categories:
The reason for leaving
- The working environment
- Technology and tools for the job
If you are struggling for questions, have a look at our examples and adapt them to fit your organisation.
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How To Conduct Exit Interviews
Exit interviews can be conducted in a variety of formats:
- Via video chat
- Through email
Before an exit interview, create a template of questions to ask and use it to guide the conversation. Feel free to give a copy to the exiting employee at the beginning of the interview so that they can follow along with you.
Its best to schedule an exit interview with the departing employee and a single HR representative. If the outgoing employees manager or supervisor is there, the staff member who is leaving may not feel comfortable answering certain questions truthfully.
Most often, exit interviews take place on an outgoing employees last day and are optional, meaning if the departing employee doesnt want to participate, they dont have to.
What Not To Say During An Exit Interview
Does anyone else consider the exit interview a strange practice?
Here you are in an interview and human resources is asking you questions about your time working for the company you are about to leave.
There is a likelihood you held many of the same opinions before you decided to leave, but for some reason HR waited until you declared you are leaving to ask you questions about your experience.
Until companies decide to hold interviews with employees who choose to stay, it is fair to say that the purpose of an exit interview is to gather potentially useful information that may shed light on making the organization a better place to work.
If you are the interviewee in an exit interview, remember there is probably little to gain but plenty to lose.
If your feelings about the job you are leaving are boiling over, vent outside the interview first. Especially if you believe you cannot control yourself and air dirty laundry. If you are afraid you are going to unload and take part in a scorched earth session, relieve these emotions with friends and family, well before the interview. Remove emotion and concentrate on facts.
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Any Activity That Allows An Organization To Exchange Information With Someone Before Their Departure
Some common ways to conduct an employee exit interview include:
- One-on-One Discussion: Because of the high importance of exit interviews, this method is the most ideal and common. A one-on-one discussion gives the interviewer the opportunity to ask useful follow-up questions, gain an understanding of how employees feel about the organization, and ideally leave the relationship as positive as possible.
- Survey: If your organization has a lot of temporary or seasonal employees who leave in a mass exodus, an online survey might be the best way to conduct employee exit interviews. While certainly less personal, this method is better than not conducting exit interviews at all.
The Exit Interview Process
Employers fall into two main categories for how they complete their exit interviews. For employees that they want to retain, expect Human Resources to schedule an interview soon after you submit your resignation. The most common scenario is for your exit interview to be on your last day of work, almost exclusively so if your company has a standing policy against counter-offers.
Companies use many methods to conduct their exit interviews but the most common is a face-to-face discussion. Other companies use video interviews, questionnaires, or online video surveys.
In all cases, the exit interview is designed to get candid feedback about the organization. Seemingly they want to know why you are leaving so they can prevent a larger exodus and retain critical employees or uncover deeper issues. In reality there is another reason why employers conduct exit interviews they want to determine if you intend to sue the company.
Waiting until your exit interview to report harassment, illegal activity, or other actionable violations can actually work against you. Late reporting is better than never reporting, but the timing reduces your credibility and will be used by the company in their defense against any claims that may result.
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Why Conduct Exit Interviews
There are many reasons why it is a good idea to conduct an exit interview. These benefits extend to not just the company, but also the employee who may want to get things off their chest and seek closure before they proceed to the next phase of their career.
Keep in mind that exit interviews are completely voluntary. If a departing employee does not feel comfortable with the idea, there should be no repercussions if they decide to refuse.
Below are some of the most common reasons to conduct an employee exit interview:
- Find out why the employee is leaving
- Learn what the company is doing well, and where it needs to improve
- Update the job title and description if they no longer match the role itself
- Give the employee a chance to express their dissatisfaction with certain areas of the business, or alert employers to illegal activity in the business
- Make improvements to existing workplace policies and procedures
If You Had Opportunities To Learn And Grow
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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How To Leave On Good Terms: What To Say At An Exit Interview
Leaving your current job is a mixture of excitement and dread. You look forward to the challenge and opportunity of the future, but know that you will miss coworkers and the familiarity of your current job even if you didnt enjoy your responsibilities or your boss. When you are escaping a bad situation it can be tempting to vent at your exit interview and finally tell the company all the things that are broken and name names.
At your exit interview, resist the urge to put your previous boss and employer on blast, even when you never want to come back. Respond with neutral comments or simply dont discuss problem issues. Maintain your professionalism and keep your reputation intact.
When the exit interview is run by Human Resources the company is unlikely to make changes based on the feedback and you never know when you need references or might run into these same people later in your career.
Remember that even in the litigious climate today, most background checks will confirm your job title, dates of employment, and the question Are they eligible for rehire?. Providing a laundry list of complaints and problems at your exit interview may be considered evidence of a disgruntled employee and inappropriate behavior. Remember that how you leave can affect your future.
Did You Feel Fulfilled In Your Role
This is a deep one, and can be answered from several different angles. Were you able to see the purpose behind your work, or did it feel meaningless? Did you find opportunities for advancement, whether in your overall career or in personal goals?
Long story short: did this role meet your needs and expectations, as determined by your values?
The answers to these questions can help your employer increase employee engagement and retention in the future. Dont beat around the bush or lie to avoid making your employer feel bad, but rather see this as an opportunity to share insights that can help them move forward.
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Listen More Than You Talk
As the interviewer, dont feel that you have to respond to feedback – thats not what this process is for. Youre not there to defend the business or justify your own decisions, but to learn as much as you can about your company.
This could be a really tough experience – particularly if youre a founder. But take heart in the fact that even the most damning feedback can be acted upon to make your company better.
“Exit interviews can be really difficult, especially if the company is your own. Its a conversation where someone basically has free reign to have a go at you and your company… It can feel like youre being kicked whilst your down. But the trick is to just swallow your pride, and let them have their say. Ben Gateley, CEO at CharlieHR.
What Did You Like And Dislike About The Job
Why they ask it: Theyre asking you this because theres a chance that they want to compare your notes to previous employees who had your role, or they may rethink the position.
How to answer it: Talk honestly about what you liked and about what you disliked, but keep things professional. Or, feel free to make a small joke about your dislike. I really like the amount of training I received over the years. I learned a lot about the strategic aspects of marketing and will be able to use those skills wherever I go. I disliked the coffee! But, seriously, there wasnt anything I disliked, but I do wish the company offered more flexible work options.
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Make The Most Of An Employees Exit
Departing employees are as much a part of everyday life as new ones. Businesses and people change, and a bit of change does everyone good. Nevertheless, it is rarely an enjoyable experience when someone leaves. Structured exit interviews can help you to make the best of the situation.
You gain important insights on how to better retain your employees, and you get to part company with your employee on the best possible terms. Everybody wins, and for that reason, employee exit interviews are a must for every HR department.
How You Feel About Your Manager And Other Leaders
This is an opportunity to recognize good managers and leaders, highlighting what made them so good, as well as identify toxic ones. If your manager empowered you to make decisions and has shown good emotional intelligence, thats helpful information for the organization. Just as helpful, is knowing about those who may be detracting from a positive working environment or are even a contributing factor to your decision to leave. This may be a boss who demonstrates bullying behavior or manages by instilling fear. In particular, when multiple exit interviews echo the same negative feedback, the organization has even more incentive to act on it. They might provide coaching to the leader in question to help increase their awareness and mitigate unproductive behaviors, or in more extreme cases, launch an investigation that may lead to further action. Rather than thinking of this as telling on anyone, consider it as shining a light on a problem to be solved in order to make things better for your soon-to-be former colleagues and the organizations future employees.
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Tips For Exit Interviews
For your next exit interview, follow these five tips:
1. Vent ahead of time, not during the interview. An HR manager doesnt want to hear, during your exit interview, that you think your manager was a jerk. While it may be irresistible to use the meeting to unload, once youve made the decision to leave an employer, airing your gripes wont do you any good. Your time to talk about concerns was while you were employed.
One of my clients had so much pent-up frustration as she was leaving a job that she was worried it would boil over in the exit interview, said Mistal. To avoid this, before the interview, Mistal recommended the woman write a no-holds-barred resignation letter to her soon-to-be former boss with painstaking detail about every aspect of the job that caused her to resign. But the letter wouldnt go to the boss it would be given to Mistal.
This approach helped the woman privately vent her strong emotions and gave coach and client a chance to turn her concerns into productive, constructive criticism in the exit interview, according to Mistal.
It also gave us a chance to see where she was the issue, where her approach to situations made things worse and how she could break those negative patterns going forward, Mistal recalls.
Her exit interview strategy is to warn against moving too far away from one of the companys stated values, which is to treat employees with respect and help each other to succeed, she said.
A Chance To Collect Frank Feedback
The best and most effective exit interviews are less like a formal interview and more like a free-flowing conversation. âThe purpose is very simple,â said Debbie Nathanson, executive coach and HR strategic business partner and consultant. âYouâre trying to collect data to improve the employee experience, to hear whatâs working well and whatâs not.â
The reasons workers leave jobs can be quite personal. Although the individual leaving wonât be employed at their current organization any longer, they may still be hesitant to share freely due to concerns about offending others or â in extreme cases â fear of retribution. But itâs exactly this honest feedback that helps HR develop initiatives and programming to make the company a better workplace for everyone.
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Do You Feel You Received Proper And Complete Training
Companies want their employees to feel prepared for their jobs. This is an area in which you can really help by sharing your candid experience. If you did not feel ready or if your training did not cover enough, let your employer know. Share practical ideas for improvement so future employees are better prepared.
Example:The best thing you can do for new employees is to make sure they understand their roles and supply them with the tools they need to perform their job. I didnt always feel as though I had the resources to do my job well, so I think new employees can benefit from more thorough and frequent training. To fully prepare new employees to meet the companys expectations, management might consider additional training or refreshers so new and current employees can meet their tasks to the best of their ability.
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Do You Think Your Job Has Changed Since You Were Hired
Job roles often change based on the fluctuating needs of the department or the company. Sometimes these changes demand a different set of skills than the position initially required and can make current employees less enthusiastic about their work. Hearing how a role has changed will provide you with critical details to include in the job description to make sure your next hire is well-suited for these new demands.
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