Conducting exit interviews with leaving employees can be a useful way of collecting feedback and insight from your staff members. Whilst feedback should be periodically collected from employees, an exit interview provides an opportunity to receive honest and open feedback. It can also better highlight any problems within the company that need addressing to improve employee retention.
With extensive experience in providing recruitment support for a range of companies, Vero HR shares the top tips for conducting an effective exit interview.
It’s important to choose the right person to conduct the exit interview. The interviewer should be someone who is in a neutral position – so, the exit interview shouldn’t be held by the employee’s line manager, for example. It’s usually best to have someone from the HR team conduct the interview, as long as the leaver isn’t from the same team. In that case, or if your company doesn’t have an HR team, a manager from another department might be suitable.
When you have the right person to conduct the exit interview, the employee will be more likely to be fully honest and transparent with their thoughts and opinions. This is especially true if they’re leaving due to problems with their manager or another member of their team.
It’s best to hold the exit interview on the employee’s last day. They’re more likely to be open and honest when they know they won’t be coming back to the company or speaking to the people that may have been linked to the reason they’re leaving.
It can even be helpful to hold an exit interview a few days after they’ve left. They may find that with some distance they’re able to make a more critical assessment of their time at the company, instead of basing it on their emotions. However, the exit interview shouldn’t be left for longer than a week after their end date. After this time, the employee may be much more disengaged with the company and less motivated to provide detailed feedback.
It can be helpful to share the topics and even the questions you want to ask with the employee prior to the interview. This allows them to prepare their answers and think more deeply about what they want to say. It can result in more useful feedback as well as easing the anxiety an employee may feel when taking part in an exit interview.
You could even provide a written exit survey first and then follow this up with a face-to-face meeting to get more details or clarity on their answers. This can help to gain the benefit of thought-out answers and also candid on-the-spot responses.
The questions you ask should focus on the company, not about specific people. It may be helpful to ask for feedback about the employee’s manager, but keep questions related to work and not about personal issues. If an employee does speak negatively about another member of staff, you should listen without agreeing or disagreeing, instead remaining neutral and recording the point.
You should make sure to ask company-related questions about what the business is doing right, what could be improved, and most importantly, why the employee is leaving. If they’re leaving due to something wrong in the company, ask them what they think could be done to improve it.
The last step in an exit interview is by no means the least. You should take everything you learn from the leaving employee, process the information and ensure it is acted upon. It can be uncomfortable if the employee has mentioned a culture of bullying, team members who aren’t doing their part, or managers who aren’t providing enough direction or support. But to ensure your business improves and to ensure better employee retention going forward, you will need to make the necessary changes.
It might be that you need to provide training for the remaining staff members or management training for leadership. It could be that you need to look at what rewards and benefits are provided by the company, or you need to see if it’s possible to offer more flexible working arrangements. For more serious problems, you might need to take disciplinary action or investigate misconduct. Whatever the employee has cited in their exit interview as their reason for leaving, you should make sure steps are made to eradicate the problem.
If your company needs recruitment support, Vero HR can help. We can provide you with a dedicated in-house recruitment service as well as advise on employee retention factors, such as employee benefits consultancy, learning and development, and company culture. Contact us to find out how we can help your business.