What Is An Exit Interview? Talking To Leaving Employees The Right Way
You begin an employee's journey with an interview, you should end it with one too. This is true for a good number of companies. But there are also those who don't quite see the importance of exit interviews, hence they choose to skip them.
For new human resources (HR) professionals, you might be wondering — what is an exit interview? Simply, it's a conversation between the employer and the employee who has resigned from a job. What goes on in this interview often depends on the kind of information the employer asks from the latter and the nature of the departure. Below, we'll go through such information, and why they can benefit both parties in the long run.
Also read: 8 Best Ways To Win Over and Keep Top Talent
What Happens in an Exit Interview
In exit interviews, employers ask a series of questions to the leaving employee. Unlike a job interview which aims to know the qualifications of a jobseeker, the primary purpose of exit interviews is to explore the overall experiences of the employee while working within the company. With the information you gather, you can offer solutions to improve the ways you can retain and engage them better.
Most exit interviews follow a standardized flow and take place privately. Oftentimes, it specifically involves the HR professional or direct manager and the employee alone. This is to make sure that the employee remains open and honest with his or her answers throughout the session.
Why Exit Interviews Are Important
Exit interviews are important for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, its benefits aren't for the employers alone, but for the departing employee as well. Below, we'll look at some of the key ways exit interviews can help your business.
Avoid attrition, increase retention One of the fundamental things exit interviews do is discover the possible reasons an employee has decided to leave the company. Knowing this information is crucial as it gives you an insight as to how all other employees may feel about their stay in the company. Therefore, avoid anyone else leaving for the exact same reason. Remember that resignations don't solely affect the employee in question, but his or her colleagues and the company in general too.
Change workplace culture for the better In relation to improving retention, exit interviews do a good job of resolving other aspects of the employee experience. For example, if the employee mentions leaving the company for having to deal with a toxic coworker, you can look at ways to deal with the latter. Or if there are processes in the company that appear to be burning out employees, you can review them to make sure that they stay relevant.
Also read: 5 ways to care for employee mental health
Opportunity to review continuing obligations When employees accept a job offer, it comes with responsibilities that cover not just the duration of working in the company, but beyond it. For example, some companies will tell jobseekers not to work with directly competing businesses within a year after the resignation's effectivity. Hence, exit interviews are a good way to bring this up again to ensure that the leaving employee fulfills those obligations. And eventually, refrain from having problems with their soon-to-be former employer.
Establish positive ending relations Not all employees leave on a positive note. In some cases, they don't even bother to resign formally if the reasons for doing so end up being that bad. So, when the opportunity arises to conduct the exit interview, you can help him or her leave at peace and even consider reapplying in the future. That is, by giving them a platform to raise important issues that need addressing.
Improve overall company processes On top of improving workplace culture, engagement, and retention, exit interviews also give you an insight into what policies and processes you should review. They may include learning and development, succession planning, or recruitment and onboarding. Resigning employees tend to be the best people to get this information from as they can share feedback without feeling that they are being assessed. Or, that their information will be used against them.
Questions To Ask During Exit Interview
Like any other interview, the best way to do exit interviews is by making all questions simple and unbiased, so the employee will feel that they can be honest with their answers and will be heard, while also providing clear answers to the interview or HR professional. The following are some questions that you can incorporate into the interview to maximize the experience.
What made you resign from the company?
Would you consider reapplying in the future?
What did you like best about working for the company?
What do you think the company can improve on?
Are there policies in the company that you found hard to conform to? How?
Were your colleagues and leaders easy to work with?
Did you find the workplace arrangement conducive to working?
Did you feel your work matched the agreed-upon job description?
Would you recommend the company to other jobseekers? What would you tell them?
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Additional Questions To Ask
More often than not, the first question will already provide valuable insights into the nature of the employee’s departure. Nonetheless, if you feel like there is a need to expound on the latter’s answer, you can follow up by asking supporting inquiries to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the case. Below are additional exit interview questions for this:
If the reason is a new job: What prompted you to apply elsewhere or explore other opportunities outside the company?
If the reason is to rest or destress: What about the job stressed you the most? Do you feel that you had the proper support or resources to do it properly?
If the reason is having conflicts: How did your work relationships affect your work? How could management help address the issues better?
If the reason is too personal to discuss further: Do you think there's a way the company could have assisted you better? How?
Tips To Conduct Exit Interviews
When done properly, exit interviews offer an incredibly powerful perspective on your company. Are you actually treating your employees right? Do your policies and processes still make sense to your current workforce? So, to make the most of this experience, here are three important tips that you must follow when doing exit interviews.
Make a note of key issues Similar to work meetings and seminars, be sure to take notes of essential points being raised by the exiting employee. But also, be sure to inform him or her even before you start asking the questions. By the end, go through the points with the employee to ensure him or her that you actually paid attention to what was shared. In addition, you must then use the data to analyze employee experience in your company.
The earlier you do it, the better When the resignation is still new, the employee will most likely have a fresher say on things and offer more genuine answers. Whereas when you wait too long to conduct the exit interview, it’s possible that he or she might have already forgotten some key critical details, or chose not to disclose them anymore. Ideally, you should do the interview soon after the employee tendered his resignation, rather than at the end of the rendering period.
It doesn’t hurt to be prepared The more insights you gain from the employee, the more you can help your business grow. To help you conduct the interview in a smooth and coherent way, make a checklist or interview guide containing the above questions. Some companies also provide pre-interview questionnaires for the employee to answer ahead. This way, you can optimize the session.