Exit Ahead: A Checklist for HR on How to Conduct an Exit Interview | DCR Workforce Blog

Exit Ahead: A Checklist for HR on How to Conduct an Exit Interview

Exit interviews can be one of two things: either very helpful or completely useless. With such a” hit or miss” type of discussion, one needs to tread carefully and understand what it takes to get the most out of an exit interview.

From a human resources perspective, when conducting an exit interview, the goal is to get the most out of the person being interviewed. It’s critical to consider some important factors such as the type of questions asked, the location of the meeting, and the way the interviewer and the interviewee communicate. All these factors help to obtain valuable feedback that is beneficial in shedding light on the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.

When making strategic decisions about the company or changes to organizational policies, feedback from exit interviews can help facilitate these changes. Here’s a list of what I think are the most important steps to take for conducting a successful exit interview.

Checklist for the steps to follow during an exit interview

  1. Ask the right questions. While you don’t want the conversation to appear scripted, there are fundamental questions you do want to ask during an exit interview. Ask questions that need to be answered. Questions gathering feedback on salary, work environment, training, management, and benefits are ideal. A well-structured exit interview should be a reflection of the person’s time with the organization. The interview should capture their overall impression of the company as a whole, their feedback about their actual role in the company, and their reason for leaving. In addition, make sure you have a standard set of questions that you ask during every exit interview. Feedback from multiple interviews will allow you to compare answers and look for common responses that pinpoint problems.
  1. Make the employee feel comfortable. The interviewer should be pleasant and show a genuine interest in the opinions of the interviewee. Also, provide the exiting worker with the information they need to know when separating themselves from the company.
  1. Have the interview in a private area. An exiting employee is more likely to provide honest feedback when alone. Many people are hesitant to voice their thoughts in front of a group of people. The fear of “burning bridges” if they are truthful prevents them from speaking up. Private areas help overcome these fears as well as block out distractions. You should give the employee your full, undivided attention and work to keep their attention.
  1. Take clear notes. Asking the right questions doesn’t mean anything if you don’t document it. So during the interview, try your best to capture what the employee is attempting to say. Going over the documented responses will help you decide if you need to take action on any given matter.
  1. Evaluate and take appropriate measures with the information received. Based on your findings during the exit interview, you may need to investigate further to validate the feedback provided. An interviewer should look back at their notes from other exit interviews to see if you can find any patterns that may indicate possible organizational issues. If the feedback from your interview is something that will be beneficial to the company, you should put an action plan together to implement change.

Company lessons

For the company, effective exit interviews provide employers with insight on what they may not have done to keep a departing employee. This information teaches the company about any good experiences the employee had and helps to identify problems within the company.

Employee experiences

For an employee, an exit interview will most likely be the last conversational interaction they will have with the organization. This means that this meeting is the employer’s last chance to get a candid review about an employee’s experience with the company. While, any positive feedback is good, the goal is to obtain as much negative feedback as possible. Negative feedback provides valuable input towards fixing issues that may impact others in your existing workforce.

When both parties focus on learning and knowledge-sharing, the purpose of an exit interview goes beyond just gathering information. The interview can help working relationships end on a positive note.

What are your tips for conducting an effective exit interview? What questions do you typically ask?

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Elise is DCR’s HR Manager responsible for everything from compliance to employee relations to admin to just plain old fun. She believe in an “I’m on it” approach when it comes to dealing with being proactive and going above and beyond on the job or when conquering new projects, changes, and challenges.