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Exit Interviews: What You Won't Hear In An Employee's Resignation Letter.


Employee Management

Exit Interviews: What You Won't Hear In An Employee's Resignation Letter.

How employees depart from their current job is as important to business managers and the overall business as much as why they leave.

October 21, 2022
min read
October 21, 2022
8 min read
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Employee turnover is not a new thing to most businesses or organizations. According to a survey by Manila Recruitment, 50% of employees voluntarily leave in the first two years of employment. High employee turnover is unhealthy for any business. Still, often one or two employees may decide to depart a company when having an opportunity to work in a new environment, earn better compensation, or based on other personal reasons.

However, how employees depart from their current job is important to their managers and the overall business. It’s at this point human resource team conducts an exit interview. This article explores critical aspects regarding exit interviews that employers and managers should understand while an employee is leaving a company.

What is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview is a discussion with an employee when they are about to leave an organization. The fundamental goal of an exit interview is for the employer to get insights about the employee’s experience working in that particular organization and possible reasons they have opted to leave.

Often, exit interviews are held face-to-face between the employee and a manager or a person from the HR team. Alternatively, it could be in the form of a survey that an employee fills out and turns in to the directed person in an organization.

What is the Purpose/Importance of an Exit Interview?

Conducting exit interviews with departing employees is vital to an organization. Apart from having an amicable parting process, employers can collect honest and constructive feedback from such employees that ultimately help them evaluate and improve some things in the organization.

Other benefits of insights from exit interviews include:

1. Allows employers and managers to tackle issues that need immediate actions

Exit interviews help employers and managers ask and identify serious issues from a departing employee that could be possibly affecting employees or teams within their organization and address them effectively. Consequently, it could prevent further departing of employees facing similar issues. Primarily, it’s a significant way to identify pressing matters and reduce risks that needs immediate attention.

2. Helps improve staff retention

Employers and managers learn the reason for an employee's departure through an exit interview: exit interviews capture a more comprehensive picture of employee turnover.

Additionally, managers can use insights from such interviews to identify areas that can help improve staff retention.

3. Helps improve recruitment

Exit interviews may provide useful insights into the onboarding and training needs of your business. More importantly, such insights could help employers align existing employee expectations with their respective job roles.

4. It helps evaluate and improve a company’s culture and performance

Honest feedback from departing employees helps them assess their feelings and opinion regarding the company. Further, employers could use such insights to improve areas of their company culture that need to be addressed.

Note: The primary goal of an exit interview is to have an orderly departure and get honest feedback from departing employees. However, it also allows employers to have a conversation with the employees to stay or consider returning in the future.

What are the Drawbacks of Exit Interviews?

As outlined above, conducting exit interviews is a good idea. However, it may come with some challenges or disadvantages, as outlined below:

1. Openness by departing employees is not guaranteed

Often, some departing employees may be fear burning bridges with their employers; therefore, they have little initiative to be completely open. As a result, employers may not get honest feedback.

2. Exiting employees may think their feedback doesn’t matter

Employees have personal and professional reasons to leave an organization. However, if their cause of going includes them feeling unheard, misheard, or overlooked, they might think giving their opinion is pointless.

Notably, exit interviews could seem “too late” to employees whose grievances or complaints were not solved. Further, it could provoke them more.

3. Departing employees may feel awkward and uncomfortable

Employees leaving on good terms may feel awkward and uncomfortable participating in exit interviews. Additionally, they may sugarcoat things or abstain from providing critical feedback to avoid burning bridges.

4. It could decrease employees' morale if nothing is acted upon

One aim of conducting exit interviews is to get insights into why employees are leaving and their experience in an organization. However, suppose employers, managers, or HR departments don’t take the initiative to address some of the issues outlined by departing employees, existing employees may feel less motivated to stay in such an organization.

What are the Tips for Conducting an Effective Exit Interview?

1. Choose a neutral party to conduct the interview

The departing employee is less likely to give honest feedback when their direct manager is conducting the interview. In that case, organizations should choose a neutral party, such as an independent HR provider, to undertake the interview.

2. Assure the departing employee that the interview is confidential

While communicating the purpose of the meeting, employers or interviewers should assure the departing employee that their feedback is confidential. Assure them that their feedback will not affect any reference they may seek in the future. It encourages openness and honest insights. More importantly, it makes employees more comfortable.

3. Guide the exit interview with short and simple questions

The interviewers should guide the conversation to the relevant topics they need to know about using short and simple questions. It also entails listening more than talking.

It’s good for interviewers to share topics they would like to discuss in advance with a departing employee. It will also make them feel more at ease.

4. Keep it casual

An exit interview shouldn’t make the exiting employee uneasy. Therefore, interviewers should avoid holding exit interviews in formal places like board rooms. Choose an informal environment such as a café to encourage a friendly conversation with the departing employee.

Additionally, avoid having several interviewers; if possible, have one. The goal is to make the employee feel comfortable.

5. Be timely

Interviewers should avoid holding exit interviews immediately after exiting employees submit their resignations. The best time is on their last day or a few days before departure. This kind of approach allows employees to be free with their thoughts and give honest feedback.

6. Express support for the new opportunity

While it’s hard to let go of some of the best talents in an organization, the employer, manager, or interviewer should express their support for new opportunities to the departing employee.

What are the Types of Questions You Should Ask in an Exit Interview?

An exit interview should bring significant value to a business/ organization. Therefore, interviewers ought to ask relevant questions, especially those that will help improve the work environment and retain employees. Notably, the interviewer should avoid blasting the interviewee with too many questions to help maintain the right focus.

Some of the ideal and must-ask questions in an exit interview include:

1. What led to your decision to leave?

2. How do you feel about management, and do you have a suggestion(s) for how we can improve?

3. Under what circumstances, if any, would you consider returning to the company?  

4. Do you think the company supported your career goals?

5. Do you feel your job description changed since you were hired? If so, in what way?

6. Do you feel you had the necessary training to be successful in your role? If not, how could it have been better?

7. Would you recommend this company to others seeking employment?

8. What was the best part of your job here?

9. How fair did you feel your compensation package was compared to other organizations?

10.  What is the hardest thing about working here?

11.  What was the team atmosphere like?

12.  How would you describe the organizational culture

13.  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Conducting an exit interview can seem time-consuming and somehow not a good idea. However, the insights from such interviews are vital and could benefit an organization in different ways, including improving retention rate and overall management performance.

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