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Benefits of Exit Interviews

We interview people when they enter our organisations, so why not interview them when they leave?

I recommend all my clients to conduct Exit Interviews with their staff before they leave the organisation.

Exit interviews play a significant role in helping organisations to get a better picture of how the whole hiring, training, retaining and terminating cycle of employees is working and how it can be further improved to support the goals of an organisation and employee expectation or satisfaction.

They can highlight internal issues with leadership, training inadequacies, technology deficiencies, outdated or unlawful policy or procedures and cultural issues that are festering. That otherwise would have remained hidden or unattended to and could result in more employees leaving or internal issues exploding.

Exit interviews can assist in finding out if any loophole exists in the recruitment process. Recruitment is a costly and complicated process where room to improve is always present. Exit interviews can reveal whether the leaving employee was hired rightly for the right job or if the position description used in the recruitment process was a true reflection of the position.

Many industries conduct exit interviews. They can be undertaken in several ways depending upon the type of termination and type of industry in which employee works. The main objective of the exit interview is to get an insight into causes and reasons that made an employee leave the organisation voluntarily. Where employees are terminated forcefully due to downsizing, forceful mergers or other global and economic reasons, Exit Interviews can help soften the concerns of terminated employees and can assist them in finding new avenues and paths to further their careers.

Most organisations conduct exit interviews face to face so that the reasons for unhappiness are determined.  These interviews can also be done online or through survey-based online forms which mainly help employees to give more candid and honest opinion where they are reluctant to provide a negative image of management.

Exit Interviews can be conducted internally or externally by a consultant before the employee leaving. When performed internally, it is often the cheaper option; however, depending on who is doing the interview, it may not be as effective as someone externally conducting the interview.

When conducting the interviews, it’s essential to have a robust set of questions that look at the positives and negative experiences the employee may have had during their time with the organisation. Having a balanced set of questions about the job, the employee’s satisfaction, its tasks, the manager they reported to and the organisation will give you a better picture of the underlying issues other than just the one question “Why are you leaving?”

Your interview will be more effective if the employee involved in the Exit Interview knows that the outcome of the Exit Interview will not be reported back to the organisation until after they leave. This lessens the fear of any retribution from their comments, and you will get honest responses and feedback during the interview, plus a higher participation rate.

I find if you provide them with a copy of the questions before the Exit Interview. This settles their nerves, give them time to think about their responses. When they see there are a format and a process it sends a message of integrity and appreciation in their participation in the process. It also removes the sense that it’s only going to be a session to air dirty laundry.

Additionally, I have found that most Exit Interviews are completed in less than an hour. However, it can be a valuable hour when you learn about issues or deficiencies within the organisation you haven’t yet seen or been advised.

Exit Interviews can save you money; therefore if you haven’t implemented them yet in your organisation, it’s time to consider them today.