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Your Exit Interview Survival Guide

Your Exit Interview Survival Guide

A couple weeks ago, we shared some tips and tricks for employee retention. An effective retention strategy helps ensure all of your great recruiting efforts don't go to waste. The reality is that very few employees last forever and, eventually, you will need to start recruiting all over again. One of the best strategies for kickstarting that recruiting effort is to perform a detailed exit interview with the departing employee.

Goals of an Exit Interview

Exit Interviews are an effective way to gain feedback and improve on all aspects of your organization -- from the culture to systems to management. Outgoing employees have little to lose in terms of their employment with you, so they are generally more open and constructive on their way out.

Some specific goals you may want to focus on include:

  • Learning more about what caused them to leave and if there's anything that could have been done to avoid it;

  • Confirming the skills they used in their position so it's easier to find a suitable replacement;

  • Ensuring all knowledge-transfer is complete;

  • Making peace with disgruntled employees and ending the employment on good terms;

  • Demonstrating to remaining employees that improvement is an ongoing priority, and,

  • In some cases, discussing options with the employee that would make them re-consider leaving.

Getting the Most Out of an Exit Interview

How can you run an effective exit interview to make sure the goals above are achieved?

  • Keep it optional to ensure that somebody giving you the feedback actually wants to provide it;

  • Guarantee confidentiality;

  • Run it face-to-face whenever possible for optimal communication;

  • Always listen and take notes rather than talking too much;

  • Keep it professional and refrain from attacking the departing employee; and

  • Remember who the feedback's coming from, as some people will give negative feedback for no other reason than because they're jerks (and you're probably not upset those people are leaving).

Unfortunately, many companies avoid exit interviews for the simple reason that they do not want to listen to the criticism or they feel it's a waste of time. Do you agree? Or have you found value in exit interviews and added it as part of your recruiting process?