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How to conduct exit interviews

7 min read

High employee turnover rate is a nightmare for any HR and, consecutively, the business. There isn’t any universal motive for employees to leave your company because you cannot control all the things they experience. Even though you made slick business policies and schemes to enhance employee well-being, it’s unsure how a hitch knocks the door that eventually pushes the employee to resign.  

Long story short, employee resignations are inevitable.  

It may happen when things aren’t right either at a departmental or organizational level as experienced by your employee. How to identify and set them right to make your organization a better place to work? 

The answers lie with your departing employee. You need to unveil them in ‘exit interviews’.   

But that’s not it.  

Formally conducting exit interviews just for the namesake isn’t enough. Your approach to the interview is the key to effectiveness which is critical to digging the real reasons behind the employee notice.

Here are some things that would help you make the most out of your exit interviews.  


Exit interview

Create an open environment  

Your exit interviews become effective and easy when your business has an open culture ingrained within. Such an environment makes the employee feel relaxed, and you can expect honest feedback, reasons, and other valuable insights.

Every business isn’t the same and has diverse workplace atmospheres. While an open culture can’t fully be a prerequisite to a fruitful exit interview, an HR can be the impetus. HR should convey the importance of exit interviews to the employee and how his/her experience and opinions can positively impact bettering organizational processes. 

An exiting employee expects confidentiality of information exchanged during the exit interview. HR should ensure that the employee’s feedback will stay anonymous, and no controversial information will be directly shared. The employee should be communicated that there will be a thoughtful process in handling the data followed by appropriate action.

The professionalism you showed when hiring the employee should continue even during the employee’s exit. Be it everyday conversations, e-mail interactions, or guiding through formalities, the employee should feel valued and empathized with.  When carefully done, you’ve removed the barrier that will stop them from being brutally honest with you at the interview time.   

Layout your interview  

Employee personalities come into play when deciding on an approach to conducting an exit interview. Extrovert and introvert mindsets function in opposite ways, and you need to make sure the options are available for them. Some prefer the exit interview questionnaire you provide, and others might choose telephonic or face-to-face interviews based on interest and comfort. The idea is not to make the process definitive but to ensure that employees are comfortable expressing themselves. 

Face-to-face interviews tend to be more effective as the communication happens between the parties present physically and churns out more information. That’s why it is better to communicate exit interview types to employees on why and how each impacts the interview’s effectiveness.  

While doing remote interviews, don’t go ahead with scheduling a video call with the employee. He/she might already be nervous about leaving the organization and desire alternatives like an audio call or online form. While deciding the interview format, have a few options available to help your employee cope with anxiety during the interview. 

Ask right questions   

People won’t get emotionally invested unless you persuade them with your words and questions. Bad-timed and straightforward questions are certainly going to kill the impression and put the employee in an awkward and uncomfortable position. Make sure to include open-ended questions that invite the employee to share more information. Create and organize the questions categorized under different psyches and personalities.  

Here are some examples of exit interview questions<span data-contrast=”none”> to give you an idea.  

Questions to ask:   

  1. What made you look for a new job? – Open-ended question 
  2. Tell me/us about your working experience here. – Open-ended question 
  3. What do you think we need to do better? Invites genuineness
  4. How do you feel about the management and leadership? – Invokes specific feelings/thoughts 

Questions not to ask:  

  1. Have you faced issues with anyone? – Closed-ended question 
  2. What didn’t you like here? – Pretty straightforward (in a bad way) 
  3. Were you unhappy working here? – Would invite awkwardness

Extract and share the insights  

Exit interview is the last time where an employee can talk when they haven’t had full-on conversations with anyone in the organization. Make sure it goes well for you and your employee so that they can re-consider coming back to you in the future.  

They can be a great opportunity to introspect business from a new perspective. After the completion of the interview, sort and organize the raw feedback acquired from the employee. Understand where the complications are accumulated that propelled the employee towards this tipping point. Translate this information in a comprehensive format understandable by the leadership. Create meetings and initiate discussions to troubleshoot your organizational processes to ensure that employees love working with you. 

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    Meet the author

    Keka Editorial Team

    A bunch of inspired, creative and ambitious youngsters- that’s Keka’s editorial team for you. We have a thirst to learn new subjects and curate diverse pieces for our readers. Our deep understanding and knowledge of Human Resources has enabled us to answer almost every question pertaining to this department. If not seen finding ways to simplify the HR world, they can be found striking conversations with anyone and everyone , petting dogs, obsessing over gadgets, or baking cakes.


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