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HR and the art of the exit interview

Maryna Stiahailo - Akkerman

If an employee makes a decision about leaving your company, it is quite important for a business to figure out the reason: if you can find out this reason, it will help you encourage others to stay. Your opportunity for finding those answers comes during the exit interview. 

Why is exit interview an important tool in HR work?
An exit interview is one of the most honest conversations you have with your employees; your one opportunity to find out what your team is really thinking.

And in a very basic sense – if someone is leaving your company, it’s important to know why. People rarely decide to leave jobs without any important reasons. 

If you want to keep your best employees and attract even more, then it’s crucial for you to find out why they would leave, and also what might make them stay. A properly run exit interview gives you the perfect opportunity to find out.  

Tips for HR: How to conduct an exit interview in the best way?

  1. Be transparent: Always share the topics that you’d like to cover in advance. Make a list of the questions you want to ask or areas you’d like to tackle, then drop it round to the leaver in an email ahead of time.
  2. What to ask : While you never want the conversation to appear scripted, there are key questions you want to touch on when you conduct exit interviews. You should also ask some of the same questions across the board in every exit interview. This way you can compare answers and look for common responses.
  3. Processing employee feedback: Nearly every exit interview should help you identify opportunities for improvement within the company. Share key points from the meeting with an employee’s supervisor or to the next level up when the feedback is relevant.
  4. Keep it personal: One interviewer is always enough. You don’t want them to feel like the company is ganging up on them – and as much as you can, let the leaver decide who they’d like to conduct the interview with. 

As far as you can, treat the leaver with respect and gratitude for the work they have done with you. They’ll go on to work at many other places, with many other people, and you want them to leave your company as an advocate and ambassador for you and the way you work.

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