Even if you maintain a good working relationship with an employee, you might still find their resignation letter in your inbox one morning.
While you want to avoid such situations and retain employees, departure is an inevitable part of the employee life cycle, and making the best out of it is essential.
That’s why a thoughtful exit interview at the end of a worker’s tenure can help you gain valuable insight into why they’re leaving.
Whether a face-to-face conversation or a questionnaire, exit interviews create a safe space for the employee to share honest feedback and reveal areas that need improvement.
In this piece, discover valuable insights about exit interviews that’ll change how you work.
What Is an Exit Interview?
An exit interview is an exchange of information between a management representative and an employee who leaves the company.
Usually, it’s conducted by a human resources team member during the offboarding process or on the employee’s last day, allowing the interviewee to speak with someone other than their usual coworkers.
The goal is to understand the cause of resignation and receive candid feedback on what you can do to improve your business.
During the interview, you can ask the exiting employee:
- Why they’re leaving
- Their impression of the company
- What suggestions they have regarding leadership style, improving the offboarding process, etc.
One thing to keep in mind is that you should conduct an exit interview regardless of whether the employee was terminated or resigned.
Of course, there might be exceptions, especially if people are angry, disappointed, and uncooperative. If the employee is leaving on bad terms, it might be better to let the matter rest.
So what happens when you do an effective exit interview? Let’s go through the benefits in the following paragraphs.
Why Are Exit Interviews Important?
Letting a former employee leave quickly is tempting, especially if they don’t go on good terms.
However, exit interviews are a strategic method to improve employee engagement and maintain a strong employer brand by assessing your organization from a different angle.
Here are the advantages of an exit interview:
- Receive constructive feedback: Exiting employees are more willing to discuss serious matters since they’re no longer worried about their careers at your company.
- Reveal cultural issues: Departing employees often feel it’s easier to be honest with criticism and praise regarding your company culture and work environment. This offers deep insight into your leadership style and helps you identify potential issues.
- Shows where you can improve: A good exit interview process gives you a last chance to make a good impression during the employee life cycle. The open conversation shows that you admit your mistakes, accept criticism, and are willing to improve. As a result, departing employees will remember you positively and may even recommend you in the future.
More than that, companies seeking continuous improvement should hold exit interviews because they improve employee retention rates, which is a common headache for the HR department.
However, to get the most out of an exit interview, you should ask the right questions about the employee’s experience with development, management, and onboarding.
Learn more in the next section.
Key Questions to Ask During an Exit Interview
To ensure job satisfaction with current or future employees, you must learn exit interviews’ dos and don’ts.
Here are key exit interview questions you MUST ask any former employee.
Q1. What made you decide to leave?
Since it’s your chance to gather valuable information and feedback that can help prevent employee turnover in the future, you can be straightforward right from the beginning and ask why they resigned.
Sometimes, the person’s reason for leaving is not about the company or how you motivate them to stay; they might be looking for better opportunities elsewhere or have quit for personal reasons.
Try to be open to criticism and don’t fear negative feedback.
Negative reviews are one of the most valuable kinds of feedback because they allow your business to grow and adapt to better cater to new or current employees.
In fact, 52% of employees find negative feedback helpful for their career growth, so why wouldn’t this also apply to companies?
Author’s Tip: If you need your employees to elaborate, you can always ask follow-up questions based on their answer.
Q2. What’s your opinion about the management?
After such a frank start, your departing team member will feel more comfortable answering this question.
As a result, it’ll be easier for them to express their opinion about your company and their job responsibilities, whether those are negative or positive remarks.
Ideally, the employee should be objective and offer specific examples when answering. This will allow you to focus on improving certain aspects of your company and ensure new employees will do their job well.
Author’s Tip: It’s vital for the person conducting the interview to remain calm, no matter the feedback, and avoid criticizing the employee’s opinions.
Q3. Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
Ask the leaving employee if they have suggestions you can implement to create a happier workforce, ensure employee satisfaction, and build stronger teams.
For further insight, you can use their response to move things naturally toward what your company does well and what they didn’t like while working for you.
Q4. How do you feel about your development within the company?
According to a report, 59% of millennials say that opportunities for learning and development are vital when applying for a new position.
You can better understand what’s missing by asking if the training opportunities were enough or encouraging interviewees to share practical ideas on improving training for future employees.
Author’s Tip: To help you conduct compelling interviews, you might need a handy HR tool.
Q5. Did you feel recognized by your manager?
Depending on the employee’s position, they might offer insights about the effectiveness of your management department and share their experience with their superiors.
It’s an excellent way to determine whether employees felt like they received enough training or education from their managers — and figure out what the managers did or didn’t do well.
Author’s Tip: Ask them if the managers supported them in their career path or in how they lived up to their expectations.
Q6. How likely are you to recommend this company?
Your former employees will become invaluable brand ambassadors, especially if they had an excellent employee life cycle.
To emphasize this point, employees who’ve experienced a positive exit are 3x more likely to recommend the organization to friends and acquaintances than those with a neutral experience.
So be sincere when you’re asking about whether they would recommend your brand to others or not.
As a bonus, employees may offer suggestions on how to make new roles look even more attractive.
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Q7. What are your expectations from the next job?
Let’s say your departing staff member had a positive experience with your company, but when you ask them about their future job expectations, it turns out they are looking for a better work-life balance.
The answer signals that you must work on your workloads and ensure employees don’t overwork themselves.
Through this question, you can reevaluate certain business functions by comparing what your company offers and an employee’s future expectations.
Now Over to You
With all these insights, you are ready to do perfect virtual or in-person interviews and create a better workplace.
When done right, exit interviews can inspire you and create innovative development opportunities to increase employee satisfaction and retention rates.
Remember to be objective and focus on the company as a whole, not the individual.
Curious to know more about how to improve other HR functions?
Look inside our HR glossary for more terms that might take your business to new heights.