3 Secrets To Useful Exit Interviews

3 Secrets To Useful Exit interviewsYour best employee just quit. Now what?

Why should you meet with employees who are opting to leave your organization? Bottom line: they are leaving for a reason so aren’t you a little bit curious why? Well, you should be. Exiting employees can be a gold mine of valuable information that can provide important insights. In fact, exit interviews work to:

  • Shine a light on things you’re doing well
  • Highlight areas you need to work on
  • Prevent future turnover of good employees
  • Confirm the knowledge, skills and abilities needed in the job (invaluable in replacing them!)
  • Provide tips and information to make the transition smoother for the incoming replacement
  • Ensure the departing employee leaves on a positive note

Here are the 3 secrets to conducting useful exit interviews:

1.) Who?

So who should conduct the interview?

To encourage frank answers, the interviews should be conducted by someone in HR, or at least someone who won’t get defensive or emotional if what they’re hearing isn’t entirely positive. They should not be conducted by the employee’s direct supervisor or by anyone they worked closely with. Also promote candid feedback by reassuring the departing employee that information collected is to focus on improving the organization, not to cast blame or to get anyone in trouble.

2.) How?

Some things to consider when you’re planning and executing the exit interview:

  • Schedule the meeting ahead of time.
  • Arrange a quiet, private location.
  • Face to face is best (though a reserved employee might give you more in writing, so consider the individual).
  • Prepare specific questions about topics you want to explore.

“Exit interviews are only useful if you know what you want to get out of them.”

  • Exhibit open body language, smile, and encourage a dialogue. Try not to burn any bridges, since you never know when your professional paths will cross again.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Listen more than you talk – you want to hear as much as they want to share.

3.) What next?

The final question is – what to do with the results?

Make it part of your process to keep track of exit interviews and examine them as a whole to determine if patterns emerge. If you are diligent about collecting information in the same format from each employee who leaves you, over time you can identify patterns that provide real insight into what you can do differently. Exit interviews that enlighten you on a particular problem area in the business may also give you some ideas for solutions so look at the learning from a solution-oriented point of view.

Finally, commit to developing an action plan to address those areas you can actually change and prevent future turnover of solid employees.

Your Engaged Assignment: Next time an employee leaves your organization, allow the relationship to end with grace. Create a plan for the exit interview; use this list as a starting point. Feel free to reach out to us for more tips on maximizing your exit interview strategy.