best practices for exit interview

What is a best practice for exit interviews?


To help you follow best practices when conducting exit interviews, we asked business leaders and HR managers this question for their best insights. From structuring questions for data comparison to giving the employee chance to vent out everything, there are several best practices that you may adopt to help both you and the exiting employees get the best out of exit interviews.

Here are nine best practices for exit interviews:

  • Structure Questions for Data Comparison
  • Ask About What Changed
  • Find Out What Employee Will Miss About Their Roles
  • Learn What Employee’s Future Plans Are
  • Make Your Interview Purposeful
  • Follow Up 90 Days After The Employee Leaves
  • Don’t Let Leadership Conduct The Exit Interview
  • Include a List of Employee’s Successes
  • Give The Employee Chance To Vent Out Everything


Structure Questions for Data Comparison

If you are using exit interviews to gather data on why people leave your organization, it’s good practice to have a structured set of questions to ask to make it easier to compare answers across interviews and build a bigger picture of the issues contributing towards employees leaving. For larger companies, this could involve gathering all recorded answers and creating a word cloud to see what words and themes are cropping up most commonly.

Camille Brouard, myhrtoolkit


Ask About What Changed

At some point your team member was happy enough to stay and be engaged at work. During an exit interview, always ask them what changed in their circumstances at work. Maybe it was pay, but more likely their boss changed, their responsibilities changed, or something in their circumstances at work changed. Though people can’t always expect to be constantly comfortable in their work, knowing what changed enough to leave is an important part of an exit interview.

Logan Mallory, Motivosity


Find Out What Employee Will Miss About Their Roles

It is important to conduct exit interviews consistently over your organization.   Many focus on the negatives here, however,  I will suggest asking some focused questions on what the employee will miss about this role and their colleagues?  Also helpful, what was their accomplishment they were proudest of in their role. 

Leave the door open for a return to your organization if this is appropriate.  Bringing great talent back cannot be overlooked in this economy. Proactive Stay Interviews might eliminate some of the Exit Interviews.

Diane Fennig, The Gallagher Group – Executive Search & Leadership Advisors


Learn What Employee’s Future Plans Are

By getting an understanding of what your employee’s vision is going forward, you gain valuable information about how your business is preparing its workers and developing its skills. While sometimes breaks are simply the result of a work relationship not working out, many times it’s simply because the employee has grown and is looking for a new and different opportunity. It’s no indictment of your workplace. In fact, it can give you strong evidence that your workplace provides a valuable stepping stone for its employees’ personal development, which is worth advertising to new, potential applicants.

Rob Bartlett, WTFast


Make Your Interview Purposeful

It’s important for your exit interviews to have a purpose. If there isn’t a clear purpose for these interviews, the interviewer won’t be asking meaningful questions. This can compromise the quality of the data and information that is recollected during the interview. If you’re struggling to find a purpose for your interviews, remember the essential information is finding out why the employee is leaving and what the company can do to prevent employees from leaving. Once you have those two answers, you can find other things you need to know to collect that information into a database.

Rich Rudzinski, Oversight


Follow Up 90 Days After The Employee Leaves

Follow up with the employee 90 days after they leave. You will receive much more candid feedback on why they left the company and how to retain others. They can also share if their new job is actually what they thought it was going to be — oftentimes it is not. After 90 days, you may have an opportunity to re-recruit the former employee back to the organization if they were a good performer.

Scott Baker, Stage 3 Leadership


Don’t Let Leadership Conduct The Exit Interview

As CEO, I do not attend exit interviews. I also encourage the employee’s manager/supervisor not to attend either. The reason for this is that the information we are trying to obtain during the exit interview is valuable feedback that can inform us on how to continue making efforts to be a better company, and if I or their supervisor is in the room, they may not be as forthcoming with criticisms. 

I emphasize having someone in HR manage that aspect of it, and tag me in as needed. This way the employee has a neutral and objective ear they can express themselves more freely to. It relaxes the employee which in turn allows them to be more honest and forthcoming with their criticisms or praise of the company. So again, I encourage leadership and managers not to attend the exit interview, only in an effort not to create any anxiety within the outgoing employee. The main priority is to obtain honest feedback on how we might improve the experience for our current employees. 

Devin Schumacher, SERP


Include a List of Employee’s Successes

Include a summary of the employee’s successes to end on a positive note. Just because an employee is leaving your company doesn’t mean you won’t work again with them in the future. And, at the very least, the former employee will go on and continue to be an ambassador for the experience of working at your company. For that reason, it’s important to include positives in the exit interview, as it’s a great way to end a business relationship amicably.

Alex Wang, Ember Fund


Give The Employee Chance To Vent Out Everything

There’s no better time for some honest, constructive criticism than during an exit interview. Regardless of whether the employee is leaving by choice or not, they will always appreciate a chance to get everything off their chest. What worked and what didn’t? Are there any serious issues that still need resolving, or perhaps other employees are to blame? If so, who’s creating a hostile work environment? Now’s the time for honest-to-God venting, and the employer should take everything that’s been said into consideration. After all, if you don’t allow the employee to vent now, they’ll do it later on social media, for instance.

Micha? Laszuk, PhotoAiD



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