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Exit Interview Best Practices

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Exit Interview Best Practices

In a perfect world, you’d be able to retain that perfect employee going into the future, but unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where sometimes employees leave for what seems to be no reason. We live in a world where turnover can climb into the higher digits while retention can seem like an impossibility. But just because we deal with those obstacles doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them. Enter the exit interview. This is a super handy way to get a barometer for why your employees are leaving, and it’s a nice and professional way to say goodbye to a valued employee.

In this post, we’re going to look at best practices for exit interviews so you can know what to do the right way and what to run from practice-wise.

Plan the meeting.

Face to face meetings are the best, and they’ll likely result in a more productive conversation overall. Try to arrange one of these if at all possible. Another option to take advantage of is to give them a written survey to fill out beforehand and then to follow this up with an interview afterward. This allows employees to gather their thoughts beforehand, but they might end up being a little less candid. You should schedule the interview during the last period of time that the employee will be with you–during the last two days of their employment with the company. You should plan to give an explanation as to why exactly you’re conducting an exit interview, and you should have your questions prepared.

What to ask.

While it’s true that you don’t want the exit interview to seem at all scripted, there are certain key questions that you should hit on during the interview process. Another good idea is to ask some of the same questions across the board during your exit interviews so as to see what some of the most common responses are.

You should open up the interview by insisting that the employee doesn’t have to answer all or even any of the answers. Then follow that up by asking if these answers are allowed to be shared with management. In the case of the employee not wanting you to share anything with management, when you get important feedback try to paraphrase that section and ask if you can share just that portion with management. It’s this kind of transparency and honesty that an outgoing employee will appreciate.

Some questions to ask are why are you leaving. Another good one is what is the company doing both right and poorly. You can follow that up with how conditions could be improved. Another important question is what would you do if you had the chance to improve the situation that’s making you leave. You could also ask how other employees feel about the situation as well as the company in general. You can also ask what the company isn’t doing that if it started doing would improve things.

You can have them describe their feelings in general about working for the company and describe, if they can, why it is that they’re leaving. You can ask for three things that they most enjoyed about working for the company to get a positive note. Another important one is if they could change three things, what would those three things be. Also, you could ask them if there were ideas they had that they wish they could’ve implemented in the company.

Another thing to ask would be for them to enumerate three of the best things they liked about working with their supervisor. You can also ask what they would change about the new employee orientation program. In other words, what would they have done differently with the way that new employees were oriented in the company? Another question to ask is who are three people here at the company who have most affected them and made a positive impact on their career while at the company. Lastly, you can ask what advice they would share with the next person who has their position.

What not to ask.

You definitely want to be on alert for harassment and discrimination complaints, but you definitely don’t want to stoke the fire. If you do receive complaints of any of these things, you should follow your standard procedures with HR to get them taken care of. The exit interview should focus entirely on the company and the feedback you gather should be used to push the company forward.

These conversations will allow employees to constructively share what led to their decision to leave. However, there are certain things that you shouldn’t do, things that could encourage negativity.

These things are:

Make sure not to ask targeted questions about other people. Never insert your own opinions into the conversation. Don’t feed into gossip around the office. It’s not helpful and it won’t be constructive information overall. Don’t say something that’s slanderous. Listen to the employee without agreeing or disagreeing with their points. You’re supposed to be an impartial observer, not a participant. Don’t share that you are setting someone up for termination. This information shouldn’t be shared with anyone, especially not with an outgoing employee. Don’t drag yourself into personal issues. Keep it all professional and light. Don’t try to convince the employee to stay with the company.

In a perfect world, you’d be able to retain that perfect employee going into the future, but unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where sometimes employees leave for what seems to be no reason. We live in a world where turnover can climb into the higher digits while retention can seem like an impossibility. But just because we deal with those obstacles doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them. Enter the exit interview. This is a super handy way to get a barometer for why your employees are leaving, and it’s a nice and professional way to say goodbye to a valued employee.

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