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3 Things to Consider When Conducting Exit Interviews

Posted by Megan Blair on Wed, Dec 05, 2012

Exit InterviewsRetrieving truthful information about an employee’s experience at your company is key to fixing any problems or issues that may exist.  Exit interviews are a great opportunity to retain this information, but how can you make sure what your exiting employee is telling you is how they actually feel?  There are many things to consider when conducting an exit interview and implementing certain practices are more likely to get you the results you desire than others.  Consider the three issues below:

How Can I Make Sure People Tell Me The Truth?
Often departing employees might tip-toe around exit interview questions as to not burn any bridges with the employer or manager.  However, as a company, the real information is invaluable to you.  It can help shed light on internal issues and allow you to realize what you can do better.

So how do you make the exiting employee feel comfortable enough with the situation that they can share their true thoughts and feelings?

Some Human Resource departments will scrub any identifying information from employees’ exit interviews before turning it over to managers or other executives.  Other than that, there really isn’t much that can be done to guarantee that the information stays anonymous. Included in your exit interviewing policy should be your stance on exiting employee’s privacy and the want to stay on good terms.  This policy should then be discussed before the interview takes place to assure the employee of your good intentions. 

Another way companies are collecting truthful exit interview responses are by emailing them a survey to their personal email account after they are done working.  While you might not get 100% participation, the responses you receive are more likely to be the type of beneficial information you can use in the end.

What Should I Ask?

Asking the right questions is extremely important to get the information you need in an exit interview.  Preparing a list of questions ahead of time will help guide you through the interview.  Examples of questions could be:

  • Why did you decide to leave?

  • Did benefits or compensation play a role in your decision to leave?

  • What was your intent when you joined the company?  Your career objectives?

Exit interviews can be very sensitive and if the interviewer is not trained in active listening, they might get defensive or frustrated when a departing employee starts to vent.  Hiring a 3rd party company to conduct your exit interviews for you (either in person or on the phone) might alleviate this issue.  Your employee might also feel like they could open up more to someone who wasn’t a direct employee of the company.

How Do I Analyze This Information?
Before going into the interview, you should have established exactly what you want to get out of the exit interview.  If there are on-going issues within the company, those problems should be addressed in exit interviews to shed more light on the issue and help solve the problem.  

Again, not getting emotionally offended by the information is key to an unbiased exit interview.  If you do not feel like someone in your company can execute this properly, you should look at outsourcing this process.  They will analytically give you the true results you desire.

Information uncovered from these interviews should be analyzed and shared with decision makers and senior management in order to properly address any problems. 

Exit interviews can be a sensitive process but are an integral part to giving you further insight into your employees and company.  By implementing a process with your HR department or an outside source, you can easily uncover this information and use it to make your company a great place to work.

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By: Megan Blair 

Megan Blair | SynergisMegan graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 2007 with a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing. After college, she started her career in event coordination in Chicago planning corporate and personal events. Her career took her down a corporate marketing path where she gained experience at the leading GPS vehicle tracking company, Navtrak. Megan started with Synergis in 2009 and is enthusiastic about search engine optimization, social media and the IT staffing industry.

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Tags: Staffing Services, IT Managers