The 3 Things Missing From Exit Interviews That'll Make Them Effective

2 min read
Jan 23, 2017

the missing pieces to exit interviews

Almost all of us have left organizations at one point over the course of our careers. While in some cases, our soon-to-be former employers conducted exit interviews with us that asked why we were choosing to jump ship, in many cases, we left without explaining why because our companies kept quiet.

When a rock-star employee announces they’ll be taking a job somewhere else and management had no idea that was even a possibility, it definitely stings. Still, despite that, organizations would be wise to ask outgoing employees a number of questions prior to their last days to figure out why they’re leaving and determine whether anything can be done to prevent workers from departing for the same reasons in the future.

When you conduct the right kind of exit interviews with your departing employees, the data you glean will almost certainly help make your organization stronger. Unfortunately, many companies that use exit interviews aren’t using them as effectively as they could be. That’s because there are certain things that are simply missing from these interviews, including:


01. Defining goals you wish to accomplish clearly

Exit interviews won’t yield the results you’re hoping for if you’re not asking the right questions. Managers need to spend some time figuring out what they wish to accomplish with each exit interview before sitting down with an outgoing employee.

The more targeted and specific the questions are, the more helpful the answers will be. Remember, no two employees are the same. The questions you have for a departing graphic designer probably won’t be the same ones you have for someone in sales.


02. Understanding they’re more than a mere formality

Lots of companies consider exit interviews to be mere formalities. But when they’re done correctly, exit interviews can help organizations keep their best workers moving forward. When great employees leave, managers often wonder whether there was anything they could have done to prevent it from happening. Thanks to exit interviews, they can figure out what changes can be made to keep other workers around. Better yet, instead of waiting until employees put in their two weeks to find out what went wrong, organizations should conduct stay interviews periodically as well.

The more frequently you talk with your employees about what they like and don’t like about their jobs, the easier it will be to convince them to stick around. Exit interviews and stay interviews aren’t mere formalities. When done the right way, they are incredibly helpful tools.


03. Believing outgoing employees will be honest

Some managers think that outgoing employees have no incentive to help the organization they’re leaving. To a certain extent, that may be true. But at the same time, these employees are no longer self-conscious. They don’t have to worry as much about saying the “wrong thing” to their manager because that person won’t be their boss for that much longer. As such, outgoing employees can be brutally honest without fear of reprimand. As employer review site Glassdoor proves, many workers have a lot to say about their companies — even long after they’ve stopped working there.

There’s a reason why many of the leading organizations conduct exit interviews with every outgoing employee: They work. By asking the right questions to your outgoing employees, you’ll get the answers you need to strengthen your company and increase employee retention. As a result, you’ll be able to deliver better products and services more cost-effectively.



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