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Tips for Conducting Employee Exit Interviews

Tips for Conducting Employee Exit Interviews

The case against exit interviews is quite compelling. Departing employees are already on their way out and might not be motivated to sit through an exit interview. If they oblige, they’ll probably be vague or dishonest, especially if they’ll need your recommendation in the future.

Farewells can also be awkward. Instead of prolonging the inevitable, everyone involved may want to skip or rush through the exit interview. To top it off, there’s no definitive strategy for exit interviews. Employers are basically on their own when it comes to developing exit interview programs.

Despite these barriers, industry experts widely agree that exit interviews can have real muscle when done the right way. Here are four tips:

1. Keep the potential benefits in mind.

Exit interviews show you what’s working and what’s not working in your organization. They bring obstacles to light, force you out of your comfort zone and inspire you to come up with innovative solutions.

Exit interviews indicate to employees that you value their feedback, thereby increasing engagement. They can also transform former employees into brand ambassadors and minimize lawsuits brought by departing workers.

When handled appropriately, exit interviews enhance recruiting, reduce turnover costs, prevent legal issues and provide closure.

2. Evaluate your communication channels.

Most industry professionals say exit interviews should be carried out in person, which makes it easier to build rapport. Others say telephone interviews can be equally effective and may evoke greater honesty and less anxiety from the departing worker. For remote employees, video calling is advised because it allows you to see the departing employee’s body language and facial expressions, which can be helpful when sensitive issues are raised.

Web surveys can be ideal if you’re seeking faster, large-scale responses. However, experts caution against interviews via text and email, noting that these methods may be too impersonal.

3. Be approachable.

The departing employee is probably nervous about the exit interview. They may be unsure about what questions you will ask and worried about how their responses will be perceived. If they’re quitting on bad terms, their emotions may be running high.

It’s therefore crucial that you do your best to make them feel safe and comfortable during the interview. Let them know you’re conducting the interview because you want to improve the organization’s practices and that you will keep their responses confidential as much as possible.

4. Be the quintessential interviewer.

You must know which questions to ask and how to present them. You should listen more than you speak and be exceptionally skilled in diplomacy. You must have a knack for getting to the heart of the matter. If you lack these attributes, the departing employee may be evasive or untruthful in their responses. This is why some experts say that exit interviews should be performed by a credible third party instead of a direct manager.

Remember, exit interviews are about acquiring meaningful responses that deliver actionable insights. The interviewer must have the right disposition and skills in order to produce those results.

Looking for more HR tips? Check out our blog.

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