HR Basics: How to Conduct Really Effective Exit Interviews

Mar 12, 2015

When an employee resigns, exit interviews are hopefully conducted by the Human Resources staff to gather honest feedback about opportunities for organizational improvement.

If you aren’t conducting these exit interviews today, you should start right away.

Ideally, HR staff can also use the information obtained during an exit interview to retain valuable employees and prevent future turnover. However, exit interviews are only useful if conducted effectively.

Here are five (5) tips to consider when conducting exit interviews with your resigning employees:

1. Focus on valued employees

Let’s face it: when troublesome employees resign, management breathes a collective sigh of relief.

An exit interview should still be conducted and valuable information could be gained, but you need to keep in mind that this employee might have created some of their own issues. On the other hand, when a valued employee resigns, it’s important to gather as much feedback as possible in an attempt to retain other valued employees.

2. Assure confidentiality

Employees might hesitate to provide honest feedback for fear of burning bridges.

Without frank and honest feedback, exit interviews are essentially useless. Therefore, it’s important to assure employees that the information they share is confidential. (Make sure it is kept confidential!)

3. Avoid ganging up on the employee

Even if well-intentioned, having multiple managers sit in on an exit interview often leads to an employee feeling attacked. If they’re put on the defensive from the start of the interview, it’s doubtful that the employee will feel comfortable enough to give honest feedback.

Make sure to conduct exit interviews one-on-one in a private setting.

4. Keep it simple

Don’t make exit interviews time-consuming for the departing employee. Keep the interview brief and focus on specific areas of interest. Some questions to consider include:

  • How well do you feel your work was recognized and appreciated?
  • How would you describe the morale of your co-workers?
  • What could be done to make this company a more desirable place to work?

5. Gather and assess information

The primary purpose of conducting an exit interview is to identify opportunities for improvement within the company. Look for patterns in feedback from departing employees and then consider what action can be taken to avoid future losses of valuable employees.

This was originally published on the Genesis HR Solutions blog.