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Importance of Exit Interviews

‘Exit interview’, a word that evokes uncomfortable stares from managers and a quizzical look from departing employee, is actually an essential and very crucial HR practice. Unfortunately, many companies are unaware that such a practice exists! Enthusiastic HR professionals, who are gung ho about hiring, go on a back foot as soon as soon as they are summoned to conduct an exit interview. It would not be inappropriate to say that exit interview is often ignored in most companies and even those who take it up do so very reluctantly, just to tick off one more exit formalities. However, exit interview can in fact provide an insight into employees’ psyche and prove to be an impetus to reformulate HR policies and practices within an organization.

 Let us try to answer a few crucial queries regarding exit interviews.

Why should you have an exit interview?

When the employees are in employment, they may not speak up about organizational issues that may be bothering them. However, when they are leaving an organization they have nothing to lose. Thus, they are likely to provide honest feedback about the organization, their managers and even HR policies.

When should you conduct an exit interview?

Most organizations that conduct exit interview do so within the last week of employee’s engagement. One must understand that this is a period, wherein an employee is in a vulnerable state of mind. Besides, if the decision to quit did not go down well with his managers, then he may not be able to express his true feelings properly. Besides, he may fear that his expression may hamper his chances of getting good referral. This defeats the purpose of exit interview.

Ideally, one month to 6 months after the employee quits an organization is a good time to conduct exit interview. The employee is settled in his new role and organization and he may be in a position to see things in a better perspective. He will be able to draw comparisons and hence, his views will matter more at this time. Do not worry about employee’s cooperation after such a long time, because most ex-employees are often happy to provide inputs at this time as they have nothing to lose. Besides, they feel valued as their opinion gets counted.

Who should conduct an exit interview?

This is very important as most companies ask management or HR personnel to conduct exit interview. If an employee has issues with management, he is least likely to voice them in front of management. Similarly, he may not even express his true feelings in front of HR personnel for the fear of getting an unpleasant referral. A neutral third party vendor is always a best option as the employee can be more comfortable and honest with them.

What should you ask during an exit interview?

Although, this is highly subjective and would differ for every employee there are certain questions that you might want to ask every departing employee.

  • What prompted you to resign from the organization?
  • What are the things that you disliked during your employment?
  • What are the things that you liked during your employment?
  • What roles, responsibilities were you looking for?
  • What are the things that your new job offers that you missed here?
  • What are the skills, training that you learned on job?
  • Did you feel sufficiently motivated, appreciated?
  • Did you have any issues with your supervisors?
  • Will you be willing to work for the organization in future?
  • Suggestions

What should you do with the data?

If you are in a habit of documenting the exit interview findings for every employee, you can draw out a familiar pattern from the data. This can form a basis for a transition in managerial, organizational or HR practices.

Never think that exit interview has no purpose in employee retention as it comes too late. In fact, this could be your opportunity to woo a valuable employee back in service. If not, it will still give you an insight to better your employee retention practices.

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