As part of your continuous efforts to improve the employee experience and retention within your organization, you may be keen to learn how conduct an effective exit interview.
An exit interview is a tool to gather feedback, identify areas for improvement, and maintain a positive relationship with departing employees.
Take the time to review the following steps and incorporate them into your exit interview process.
- Preparation: Before the exit interview, review the employee’s job history, performance evaluations, and any previous concerns raised. This will provide you with a foundation for understanding their experiences and help facilitate a more insightful conversation.
- Scheduling: Schedule the exit interview well in advance of the employee’s departure date to ensure both parties have adequate time to prepare. Inform the departing employee that the purpose of the interview is to gather feedback and learn from their experience, emphasizing that their input will be taken seriously and used to improve the workplace for current and future employees.
- Establish a comfortable environment: Choose a neutral location for the exit interview; a video call would be ideal. Ensure privacy and make it clear that the conversation will be confidential. Begin by expressing appreciation for the employee’s time and contributions to the organization, setting a positive tone for the discussion.
- Use open-ended questions: Ask open-ended questions to encourage the employee to share their experiences and thoughts. Some examples include:
- What aspects of your job did you find most rewarding?
- Were there any challenges you faced that you feel were not adequately addressed?
- Can you share any feedback on your direct manager or team?
- Are there any areas where you believe the organization could improve?
- What factors influenced your decision to leave the company?
- Listen actively and empathetically: Listen attentively and show genuine interest in the employee’s feedback. Avoid interrupting, arguing, or becoming defensive. Validate their feelings and experiences by expressing understanding and empathy, even if you do not necessarily agree with their perspective.
- Seek clarification and examples: If the employee raises any concerns or provides negative feedback, ask for specific examples or situations to better understand the issue. This will help identify patterns and potential areas for improvement.
- Discuss any unresolved issues: If the employee mentions any unresolved issues or conflicts, explore whether there is an opportunity to address them before their departure. This demonstrates the organization’s commitment to resolving concerns and may even facilitate a more positive departure (or a retention, where desired).
- End on a positive note: Thank the employee for their candid feedback and contributions to the organization. Express your best wishes for their future endeavors and let them know that the door is always open should they wish to return or maintain a professional relationship.
- Document and analyze the feedback: Following the exit interview, document the employee’s feedback and analyze it to identify trends or common themes. Share pertinent information with relevant stakeholders, such as managers or team leaders, to implement improvements and address any concerns.
By conducting an effective and professional exit interview, you can gain valuable insights and continuously enhance your organization’s culture and employee satisfaction.
Jeff is a lawyer in Toronto who works for a technology startup. Jeff is a frequent lecturer on employment law and is the author of an employment law textbook and various trade journal articles. Jeff is interested in Canadian business, technology and law, and this blog is his platform to share his views and tips in those areas.