9 Secrets Of A Successful Exit Interview

Olivia Adams

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Have you recently had an employee turn in their two weeks notice? Then you’re probably wondering why they’ve decided to leave.

Whatever the situation may be, whether they’re personal reasons or they relate to the company, it’s always a good idea as an employer to pinpoint why your employees leave. Exit interviews give you the opportunity to learn more about your employees, how to satisfy and retain them, and whether or not your management strategies are effective.

Employees often use this as a time to be completely honest with you and share their experiences with the company. Whether their experiences are good or bad, an exit interview can provide you with valuable feedback to help you continuously improve  your workplace and culture.

Another important factor to consider when performing exit interviews is your potential future with the individual. This is especially important when Millennial employees leave. Millennials who leave your company present you with a unique opportunity since there is sometimes potential for them to come back down the road.. More importantly however, you want to retain them as a brand advocate, even long after they leave your company, therefore an exit interview is a great way to maintain this relationship.

If you’re thinking about implementing exit interviews, or simply need some ideas to improve your current exit process, check out these nine secrets of successful exit interviews:

1. Prepare the employee for the interview. 

The key to a successful exit interview is preparing the employee for the interview. You want to make sure the employee provides honest feedback, therefore you need to provide the employee with everything they need prior to the interview.

The employee should receive communication before the meeting, whether it’s via email, phone call, or in-person. Explain to him or her about the process of the interview and who will be conducting it. This will help the employee feel more comfortable about the interview.

2. Hold the interview in a private meeting.

Exit interviews are much more comfortable for the employee when they are conducted one-on-one. This will make sure the employee feels safe in the environment and not ganged up on by the rest of management. Plus, this setting will also ensure confidentiality for the meeting.

3. Make sure the interview is a constructive meeting.

Exit interviews aren’t meant to hurt the employee or place blame upon them for leaving. This is simply an opportunity for you to gain more insight on why employees choose to leave and how you can make changes to better your company. Make sure you give your employees the opportunity to provide honest feedback, and never place judgement on them.

4. Ask the employee for specific examples that caused their departure.

During the exit interview, have your employee paint a vivid picture of their experience with the company. Have the employee describe their positive and negative experiences that help you better understand their departure. This will help you determine whether their decision to leave was influenced by your company or if it was truly a personal matter.

5. Use open-ended questions. 

Asking employees open-ended questions will help provide you with more quality feedback than a simple yes/no question. By asking more “how” and “why” questions, employees will be likely to share more details from their experience.

For example, you can ask questions such as:

  • What motivated you to leave your position?
  • How would you have changed your experience?
  • What suggestions do you have for future improvement?

6. Open the floor for them to provide feedback.

Exit interviews can be an emotional experience for both the employee and the interviewer. Especially if the departure was a sensitive situation, you want to make sure the employee feels safe sharing their feedback.

During the interview, be sure to be as objective and transparent as possible. Although you may share a different view on the employee’s departure, this is their opportunity to share why they decided to leave. The best thing to do is to remain neutral and refrain from sharing negative feedback with the employee.

7. Take careful notes.

It’s important to take notes during the interview because you want to keep a record of this valuable feedback. These notes should be used to provide feedback to the employee’s managers in the near future. In fact, it’s also a good idea to do a voice recording of the exit interview to ensure the notes are unbiased.

8. Assure the employee their feedback is anonymous.

Remember, the purpose of an exit interview is to obtain information that will help you improve your company as a whole. Never alienate any individual during this process.

Make it clear to the employee that all of their information will be confidential and information shared is strictly between the employee and the interviewer. While the information will be used as needed to update your current management process, nothing specific should be disclosed within your team. This will ensure the employee feels more comfortable providing feedback during the exit interview.

9. Thank the employee.

At the end of the interview, it’s very important you thank the employee for their time with the company. The last thing you want to do during the interview is to burn any bridges. Be thoughtful and genuine in your gratitude for the employee’s commitment. This will help you end the interview on a more positive note.

A proper exit interview will help employers decrease turnover and retain future employees. By performing exit interviews, you’ll find out what contributes to the experience your employees have and how you can make improvements for the future.

What tips do you have for successful exit interviews?

Olivia Adams

Brand Manager at Come Recommended
Olivia Adams is the Brand Manager at Come Recommended. She is a graduate of Ferris State University with a B.S. in public relations. Olivia has experience in content marketing, writing, social media, branding, and public relations.