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Conducting an Exit Interview: top questions to ask

Conducting an exit interview: woman waving

Employee turnover is inevitable. But you can turn an employee’s departure into an opportunity to learn about what you are doing correctly and where your organization can improve with our guide to conducting valuable exit interviews with departing employees.

Making an exit interview part of your employee offboarding process is key to helping you identify opportunities and implement influential changes in your organization’s processes and procedures. Whether you’re unsure of exit interview best practices or how to conduct an exit interview with a terminated employee, check out Adecco’s essential guide to getting the most out of exit interviews.

Exit interviews and retention

No organization can completely avoid employee turnover. Even the best efforts to increase engagement and employee retention can fail; there will always be colleagues leaving your organization, whether it’s because they’ve found employment elsewhere, reached retirement or fell short of their job expectations. Despite the inconvenience of initiating the recruitment and onboarding process, there is something to be gained from employee turnover and it lies within the exit interview. With nothing to lose, departing employees are more likely to provide constructive feedback, enabling employers to refine their recruitment and training practices as well as developing better engagement and retention strategies for the long-term success of their employees and business.

Conducting the best exit interviews

Exit interview best practices: two colleagues shaking hands after a business meeting

Be mindful of a few exit interview best practices to make sure you are getting optimal feedback from the departing employee.

  1. Schedule an exit interview within a week of the employee giving written notice. This will ensure the colleague is still engaged in their work load.
  2. Offer the colleague multiple exit interview format options (written, phone or in-person) and allow them to pick the format they are most comfortable with.
  3. If the associate opts for an in-person or phone interview, have an HR representative conduct the interview. Allowing a manager or direct supervisor to conduct the interview can leave the colleague feeling intimidated and uncomfortable about answering certain questions.
  4. Create a comfortable and safe environment to encourage the colleague to open up about their experiences and reasons for leaving. Reiterate that all feedback is confidential and provide a private area to conduct the interview.
  5. End the interview on a personal and positive note. Thank the employee for their time and wish them success in their future endeavors.

Remember! With limited time left in their role, departing employees are busy organizing their desk for the replacement employee and preparing for their next big chapter. Keep your exit interview brief to ensure better engagement from the colleague.

Exit interview questions

Exit interview questions: businessman using pen and computer laptop for an interview

Asking the right questions will help ensure you are getting the best insight from the departing employee.

Consider these general questions:

  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • What did you like/dislike most about your job?
  • What would you recommend we do to help us create a better workplace?
  • Can you offer any other comments on why you are leaving and how we can improve as an organization?

Ask the following if you have high retention:

  • What could have been done for you to remain employed here?
  • What made you accept another job offer?
  • What things could management have done better?

Ask the following if you have low retention:

  • What skills and qualifications should we look for in your replacement?
  • How can we improve our employee training and development programs?
  • What things could your manager have done better?

Ask the following if you are a start-up:

  • Were you happy with your compensation (including pay, benefits and other incentives)?
  • Did you feel you had the necessary tools and equipment to do your job?
  • Did you receive feedback to help you improve at your job?

Ask the following if morale is low:

  • How could management make this company a better place to work?
  • How would you describe our company culture?
  • How would you improve employee morale?

Ask the following if the employee leaving is a surprise:

  • How do you feel you were treated by colleagues, supervisors and management?
  • Were your job responsibilities accurately characterized during the interview and orientation process?
  • Did management help you accomplish your professional development and career goals?

The results of your exit interview hold great opportunities for adjusting how you manage your employees and improve retention. This includes seeking and analyzing the departing employee’s feedback on: job training, efficiency, management leadership styles and compensation. Use the results you have collected to create an action plan that improves office efficiency and betters employee morale.

Lēad Blog is part of Adecco and Roevin Canada. Hire your perfect team, or get more staffing advice from our experts.

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