How to conduct an effective exit interview

How to conduct an effective exit interview

Exit interviews are one of the most important information gathering processes that your business can undertake. Effective exit interviews should provide insights into what your employees value and indicators as to why they are choosing to leave your business. It’s important to ensure that your business is set up correctly to conduct effective exit interviews and to implement the findings to make lasting change to your business.

Spain and Groysburg in their article ‘Making Exit Interviews Count’ for the Harvard Business Review cite research indicating that high attrition is a predictor of low performance. Additionally, a business with a lower staff turnover than its competitors can be an advantage, especially if top performers are retained by the business.

Eric Cormier from writes in his article: ‘How to conduct an exit interview the right way’, that it’s important to advise the employee as to why you are conducting the interviews and how this feedback fits into the overall business strategy. Essentially exit interviews should provide the company with information with what they should stop, start and continue doing.

It’s wise to conduct exit interviews within the last few days of an employee’s final week and to schedule the exit interview with someone that isn’t a direct line manager of the employee. It’s also important to ensure that the employee understands that their responses will be confidential and that the face to face meeting is scheduled at a time convenient to the employee. As Cormier notes, it’s also important to mention that exit interviews are not a ‘witch hunt’ or a place to discuss other employees directly, but rather what changes could be made to improve the business overall.

Spain and Groysburg recommend that an effective exit strategy should ask questions relating to the following areas:

  • Uncover issues relating to the recruitment and induction processes and training
  • Understanding employees’ perception in relation to the work itself
  • Gain insight into the effectiveness of the Manager’s leadership style
  • Learn about salaries and benefits at competing organisations
  • Seek feedback on ideas for improving the organisation
  • Create lifelong advocates for the organisation

Cormier suggests that the questions asked should include the following:

  • Why are you leaving the company?
  • Who made a positive impact to your role and your career while at this company?
  • What advice would you have for the next person in the role?
  • How could conditions be improved here?
  • What are some things that you enjoyed about working here?

If you would like help or support in setting up or improving the exit interview strategy for your business, speak to the HR Consulting team at Flexi Personnel.