Do's and Don'ts of Conducting Employee Exit Interviews
Do: Prepare for the Interview Ahead of Time
Preparing before exit interviews will help to ensure that you’re able to cover everything that needs to be addressed. To start, we suggest using this list of exit interview questions from Glassdoor. That list will serve as a guide to keep the conversation moving. In addition, be sure to ask follow-up questions when it makes sense to do so and use the list when it’s time to keep the interview on track.
Don’t: Create an Uncomfortable Situation for the Employee
As you conduct the interview, keep your employee’s situation in mind. Start by remembering that an exit interview may be your company’s policy, but your employee isn’t required by law to participate. For instance, consider who should give the interview. Personal issues with specific supervisors could make the employee uncomfortable and prevent them from being completely candid.
Do: Keep the Conversation Professional
One of the most important factors when conducting an exist interview is ensuring that it remains professional. Rather than discussing personal issues or inserting your own opinion into the conversation, keep the focus on work-related issues. Your employee could (and should) give you constructive criticism throughout the interview. Don’t take the comments personally – and give them the freedom to voice their opinions.
Don’t: Be Pushy
It’s important for you, as a manager, to understand that this might be a difficult time for your employee, regardless of the reason for them leaving the company. Personalities vary greatly, and some individuals may be less willing to share details about their departure than others. There are many reasons that employees may choose to leave their job, and some are more sensitive than others. Don’t demand answers; instead, try to engage in a relaxed yet professional conversation.
Do: Listen to Your Employee
When participating in an exit interview, listen carefully to your employee and recognize opportunities to get more insights about why they’re leaving, and how your company can improve. It may be tempting to ask as many questions as possible, but the purpose of this meeting should be to hear your employee’s feedback. If you’re talking more than them, it isn’t going to be a useful meeting for either of you.
Don’t: Forget to Take Notes
A lot can be said in a short conversation. As you listen to your employee’s responses to your questions, be sure to take notes. Review the notes later and pick out key messages about your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Once several exit interviews with different employees are completed, you’ll have a wealth of information that could help you to make necessary changes to your company culture.
Do: Be Receptive to Feedback
By asking the right questions and giving your employee the opportunity to share their thoughts about their role, manager, and your business’s overall company culture, you’re creating an ideal situation to receive valuable feedback. It may be unrealistic to think that through this interview you’ll find the key to keeping employees happy at your company, but you’ll probably get some insight on areas that you can improve.
Don’t: Gossip About Interview Answers with Coworkers
When you finish the exit interview, you’ll most likely have personal information about your employee. Due to this, confidentiality is incredibly important. Unless there was an ethics violation or mention of a hostile work environment that needs to be reported, the information that was revealed to you shouldn’t be shared elsewhere.
Ending on a Positive Note
Exit interviews, in general, may not be a time to celebrate, but they can be a positive experience for both employers and employees. Use data from exit interviews to determine trends in employee retention and evaluate how you can improve your business with the information you collect.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.