An exit interview is the last chance for a company to have a face-to-face conversation with a leaving employee. Learn more about what this final interview is, what it brings to the company, and how to conduct it properly.
The exit interview is a part of the offboarding process, the last meeting of a departing employee with a person / group of people representing the company (a specialist form the HR department, manager, etc.). During this meeting, the employee can share their feelings about the cooperation and their opinion of the company. People representing the company should be impartial, and the interview itself – is optional.
Some companies use exit surveys instead of interviews, but they should not be considered a substitute. The conversation allows the employee to speak openly about various topics, while people representing the company can expand the notes with additional observations: the interviewee's body language, tone of voice during the conversation, etc.
Exit interviews are most often conducted a few days before the employee leaves the company. This is the optimal time for both sides. For the employee – this will be the time when the first emotions, associated with the fact that the cooperation has ended, will fall. For the employer – the time to develop a strategy, what feedback he wants from the employee, or time to prepare a counteroffer – if the employee has given notice because they received an offer from a competitor. Do not leave it for the last day of cooperation.
Exit interviews should also be conducted for people, retiring, for whom this will be their last job. Ex employees with many years of service in the company are an invaluable resource. If they felt satisfied in the company, the work environment suited them – you can expect a positive note. Negative feedback will be guidelines for the company to change.
What to say in an exit interview? The truth. The power of an exit interview comes from sincerity. By inviting an employee to a meeting, we give them a clear signal that even though our paths diverge, we value their opinion. In order to get as much honest feedback as possible from the meeting, it is worthwhile to work out a scheme of how the meeting will go in several variants:
a conversation with an employee who has given notice himself,
a conversation with an employee whose position has been reduced,
a conversation with an employee who was fired by the employer for other reasons (e.g., he was unproductive or was a toxic employee).
It remains open to debate whether to try to talk to an employee who has been dismissed on disciplinary grounds. At this point, a lot depends on the reason for the dismissal itself, so the appropriateness of an exit interview should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
While you prepare the interview scheme, figure out what questions you will ask (closed/open). Don't forget that the employee may also want to ask their own questions, so try to work out some basic issues that the employee may want to raise. The interview should last no longer than an hour of your time, and be held in an environment that is comfortable for the employee, i.e. in a quiet room, without unnecessary witnesses, with a cut-off of any visual distraction.
The exit interview is the moment when we focus on the employee. A well-conducted interview is a valuable source of knowledge about the company and an element of a strong employer brand.
When organizing an exit interview, you can use the HR software. The right features will help you take full advantage of exit interview best practices when creating and avoid common mistakes in formulating exit interview questions and answers.
The purpose of an exit interview is to look at a company through the eyes of an employee. So the main benefit will be to learn about the company's weaknesses, i.e. shortcomings in various areas of its operations. What other benefits will a well-conducted exit interview provide?
Positive impression after parting – showing respect and understanding to the employee by listening to their comments about the company is not only an element of employer branding but also leaves the door open for re-engagement with the employee (so-called boomeranging).
Putting things in order – the exit interview is the moment to confirm whether all administrative formalities related to the termination of cooperation have been completed (documentation, transfer of duties, removal of system accesses, etc.) and to provide the employee with information about the further actions planned (the last days of work, the deadline for payment of benefits, the deadline for sending references and employment certificates, etc.).
Exchange of opinions – during the exit interview, both the employee and the employer can exchange information about the ending cooperation. The employee does not have to fear that what he says will have negative consequences for him. The employer gains confidence that the employee will not make negative emotions public outside the company.
Exit interviews should be adjusted to the circumstances under which the cooperation was terminated. There is no such thing as one right scheme to follow. Below you will find a list of questions you can use when conducting interviews at your company.
What influenced your decision to leave the company? / Was there anything that could have influenced your decision to leave the company?
Why did the job not meet expectations? / What are the reasons for the change?
How do you rate the overall working conditions / the company culture? / What part of your job did you like/dislike the most?
Do you feel you received the right and complete training?
What things should the person who will replace you know?
What has worked in the company and what has not? / Which things in the company need improvement?
How do you evaluate the atmosphere in the team?
How do you evaluate your cooperation with the manager/team?
Did your expectations of the company turn out well?
How would you remember the people and the working atmosphere?
Would you recommend our company to other people looking for a job?
Are you considering staying with the company? / Is there anything that could change your decision to leave the company?
How was the recruitment process at the new company? How do you compare it to the process at the current company?
Remember! It's really important to choose questions according to the circumstances – don't use the same questions for every interview.
Before you meet with an employee for an exit interview, inform them of such a meeting and how it is conducted. Make it clear that it is completely voluntary. It is absolutely forbidden to force participation in the meeting under the threat of not issuing a reference or certificate of employment!
Introduce the employee to the idea of an exit interview as if it were a sincere meeting where they can share their comments and thoughts. Take care of the comfortable place in which it will be held and ensure a good atmosphere, e.g. If the employee was in conflict with his superior, this superior should not participate in the exit interview.
Is the turnover in the team increasing? Is someone spreading rumors about the company? In order to find out the company's weaknesses, you need to get the right information. The easiest way to do this is through an exit interview. Prepare your interview scheme, select questions for the survey, and get going!
Acquiring employees is much more costly than keeping team members. By using a tool like an exit interview you will learn how you can improve processes and working conditions to retain employees. In addition – you will not only improve your employer's brand but also find out what your competitors are offering.