| 15 December, 2020 | 4 Min Read

How to conduct an exit interview: the easy way

Conducting an exit interview has proven to be the most effective way to gain insight into departing employees' experience, at your workplace. For a successful exit interview, you have to schedule ahead of time and create a conducive interview environment. Above all, you have to ask the right interview questions.

Departing employees have excellent knowledge about what goes on in your place of work. You should listen to what they have to say, to learn about your company from their perspective. This is where an exit interview comes into the picture.

An exit interview helps you access all the essential details you ought to know about a departing employee and their view of your workplace. These details will include the beautiful things about your workplace, as well as the bitter truths prone to make you uncomfortable. You can use the feedback to create a better workplace for the employees who aren't leaving.

This article will explain all you should know about an exit interview and provide tips on conducting a seamless one.


What is an exit interview?

Exit interviews are meetings conducted with departing employees, by HR employees or company executives. The interview allows a company to gain insight and understand the employees’ good and bad experiences during their stay with the company.

Top companies use the responses gotten from their exit interviews as a foundation for their workplace policies and reforms in the future.

There are two primary methods for conducting exit interviews:

1) Face-to-face interview: This is the most efficient method for conducting exit interviews. It allows one-on-one discussion between the interviewer and the departing employees. This interview method enables the interviewer to ask follow-up questions, which helps them understand what departing employees genuinely think about the organization.

2) Questionnaire: Companies adopt this method when more than a handful of employees leave their workforce at the same time. Instead of the face-to-face interview approach, which tends to consume time, they simply send questionnaires for the departing employees to fill. This method is usually less personal because it does not allow you to get detailed answers from employees.


What should you get from an exit interview?

An effective exit interview grants you insights to understand how a departing employee truly felt while said employee worked with you. It lets you gather feedback, suggestions, and ideas, which will help make your workplace more conducive and comfortable for current employees and future hires.

In summary, an exit interview allows you to:

  • Learn the specific reason behind your employees’ departure.
  • Get insights on the areas to improve on in your workplace.
  • Acquire feedback, which can help you retain your current employees.

5 easy tips for a successful exit interview 

The best tips to conduct a successful exit interview are:

1. Schedule ahead

An exit interview is always best when conducted one-on-one, because it allows you to get thorough feedback from departing employees. Therefore, start by informing the employee of the interview via email, well ahead of time. Ensure that you explain the purpose of the interview in the message, so they will know why they have to partake in it.

You may also attach the exit interview questionnaire to the email body, for the employee to have enough time to prepare complete answers. Lastly, ensure the interview takes place during the last days of their employment. If possible, make it the last thing they do before leaving your organization.

2. Make the exit interview voluntary

Not all your departing employees will want to participate in an exit interview. This may be due to personal or other reasons. Whatever the reason(s) may be, you should not force them to take the interview.

Forcing employees to participate in an exit interview may be illegal, depending on your country’s labor law. It also defeats the whole purpose of the procedure, as the employee will likely not provide helpful answers to aid your cause. They will probably give dishonest and hasty replies, or answer most questions unfavorably.

3. Create a comfortable interview environment

One of the primary purposes of exit interviews is to get the good and the bad details about an employee’s journey in your organization. You can’t achieve this without creating a transparent and comfortable environment for departing employees.

The first step to creating such an environment is ensuring that the employee’s manager doesn't conduct the interview himself. Get an HR representative and company executive to oversee the interview process. With their direct manager out of the picture, the employee will be more comfortable with providing honest answers to the questions.

Next, you should assure employees of confidentiality. Let them know their feedback will be added to other employees’ feedback, and given to the management for review. This will encourage them to be more open with their remarks or criticism, without fear of damaging their chances of rejoining the company in the future.

4. Ask the right questions

Before the interview day:

1. Do your research and gather some information about the employee.

2. Outline the interview questions based on that knowledge beforehand, so you won’t forget anything.

3. Make sure you don’t ask controversial or unethical questions during the interview.

Some of the questions you should avoid during an exit interview are:

  • Questions about specific employees (aside from their managers or supervisors)
  • Questions about office gossip
  • Questions about their personal life
  • Questions not related to the company

5. Pay attention to employees’ responses

While asking the questions, listen carefully to their answers and write them down to ensure you don’t forget. If you don’t understand a particular reply, ask follow-up questions.

Also, be mindful to the things employees say they like about your company. This knowledge is critical to retaining current employees. Look at the positivity in heir feedback and improve or strengthen them. For example, if they enjoy using the office game room, you may add more games to keep employees occupied during office breaks.

Finally, for your exit interview to be effective, you need to implement all the information you got from your departing employees. Remember to take a look at every single suggestion, idea, and feedback. Look at the most common complaints and try to figure out how you can solve them.


Offboard your employees seamlessly with sample interview questions

Asking the right questions is a core part of an exit interview process. The right questions will allow you to get useful suggestions and feedback that you can implement to better your organization.

Use these well-researched questions to start learning everything you can from your departing employees today.


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