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Why to conduct an exit interview and how to do it

Exit interviews are crucial in understanding employee departures, gaining insights into retention factors, and improving the employee experience. They provide valuable feedback helping HR professionals identify patterns, and drive positive change. Conducting exit interviews saves time and money by reducing turnover costs and facilitating growth opportunities.

Alexandros Pantelakis
Alexandros Pantelakis

HR content specialist at Workable, delivering in-depth, data-driven articles to offer insights into industry and tech trends.

Why to organize an exit interview and how to do it

Say goodbye the right way. Let’s discuss the value of exit interviews and share tips for better outcomes.

Exit interviews have long been recognized as a valuable tool in understanding the reasons behind employee departures. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), they provide valuable feedback to improve recruitment processes. They’re also crucial to employee engagement and in turn, employer branding.

Exit interviews uncover issues, help adapt to change, and gauge candidate fit. They serve as a mirror for self-reflection, leading to improvements for the benefit of the team and customers.

This procedure may be conducted with ready questionnaires and one-on-one virtual or physical meetings.

Focus on key values

By focusing on key values such as communication, work culture, compensation, manager communication, learning and development, self-development, and cross-department relationships, HR professionals can delve into various aspects of the employee’s tenure and gather candid feedback.

Key values:

  • Communication
  • Work culture
  • Compensation
  • Manager communication
  • Learning and development
  • Self-development
  • Cross-department relationships

Exit interviews are conducted to understand why employees are leaving and gain insights into factors affecting retention. By providing a platform for departing employees to express their thoughts and concerns openly, HR professionals can identify patterns and issues.

The feedback obtained during exit interviews helps improve the employee experience and drives positive change within the organization. Additionally, regular engagement surveys are conducted to gauge satisfaction, identify potential problems, and measure overall engagement levels.

These surveys allow HR departments to address concerns proactively and create a positive work environment that promotes employee loyalty.

Making the right questions

]In order to examine the above topics you need to ask the right questions so you can make the right decisions later. Keep it simple and avoid asking different questions to each candidate as this practice will make it impossible for you to extract valuable outcomes.

At Workable, we have created an easy-to-use exit interview template to help you select the appropriate questions. Here are some examples:

  • How would you describe your overall experience working here?
  • Could you provide some insights into your decision to leave?
  • What aspects of working here did you enjoy the most?
  • How would you characterize the treatment you received from your supervisor and coworkers?
  • Did you feel that your work was adequately recognized and appreciated?
  • Were you provided with sufficient training and assistance to perform your job effectively?
  • Are there any things you wish you had known earlier during your time here?
  • Did you feel that your work aligned with your personal goals?
  • In your opinion, what could be done to make this company a better place to work?
  • What tools, resources, or training do you believe would have helped you perform better in your role?

From the above questions, you can easily understand the major topics of discussion that align to a great extent with the guidelines of an exit interview.

Let’s explore each one in more detail:

How would you describe your overall experience working here?

This question provides a broad starting point for employees to share their overall perspective on their time with the company. It encourages them to reflect on their experience and provides an opportunity to uncover both positive aspects and areas for improvement.

Could you provide some insights into your decision to leave?

Understanding the reasons behind an employee’s departure is crucial for identifying potential issues within the organization. This question encourages departing employees to openly express their motives, whether it’s related to career growth, work-life balance, management issues, or any other factors that influenced their decision to leave.

What aspects of working here did you enjoy the most?

By asking this question, HR professionals can gain insights into the positive aspects of the employee’s experience. It helps identify the strengths of the company, such as a supportive work culture, opportunities for learning and development, or effective communication channels that contributed to employee satisfaction.

How would you characterize the treatment you received from your supervisor and coworkers?

This question focuses on the employee’s relationship with their immediate supervisor and colleagues. It helps gauge the level of support, respect, and collaboration they experienced, which can significantly impact their overall job satisfaction and engagement.

Did you feel that your work was adequately recognized and appreciated?

Recognizing and appreciating employees’ contributions is essential for fostering a positive work environment. By asking this question, HR professionals can assess whether the departing employee felt valued and acknowledged for their efforts, or if there were any gaps in recognition practices.

Were you provided with sufficient training and assistance to perform your job effectively?

Offering employees the necessary resources and support to excel in their roles is vital for their professional growth and job satisfaction. This question helps identify any gaps in training programs, mentorship opportunities, or support systems that may have impacted the departing employee’s ability to perform their job effectively.

Are there any things you wish you had known earlier during your time here?

This question allows employees to reflect on their onboarding experience and identify any information or insights they believe would have been beneficial to know earlier. It helps identify areas for improvement in the onboarding process and ensures that future employees have a smoother transition into the company.

Did you feel that your work aligned with your personal goals?

Understanding the alignment between an employee’s personal goals and their work can shed light on their level of motivation and fulfillment. This question provides insights into whether the departing employee felt their work was meaningful and whether it contributed to their professional aspirations.

In your opinion, what could be done to make this company a better place to work?

This open-ended question encourages departing employees to provide constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement. It allows them to share their perspectives on how the company can enhance the employee experience, address any challenges, and create a better workplace environment.

What tools, resources, or training do you believe would have helped you perform better in your role?

This question focuses on the specific tools, resources, or training that departing employees believe would have enhanced their performance and productivity. Their insights can help identify areas where additional support or improvements can be made to enable future employees to excel in their roles.

Save time and money

As you bid farewell to departing employees, remember that their exit is not just an end but also an opportunity for growth and improvement. Embrace the chance to understand the reasons behind their departure, identify areas for enhancement, and prevent future challenges.

With this in mind, you can reduce turnover costs and the time it takes for new employees to ramp, enabling you to focus solely on the growth opportunities of your organization.

Spend more time on exit interviews and employee surveys, and save time to suggest improvements before it’s too late.

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