Should a company do exit interviews?

posted in: HR Advice | 1

By Melissa Walker


As your company grows, you may be trying to decide whether to conduct exit interviews to determine why an employee resigned from a position at your business.

An employee exit interview isn’t necessarily an attempt to change the person’s mind. Instead, it’s an opportunity to reduce further turnover by learning what possibly caused the person to resign, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, an advocacy group representing 325,000 small businesses across the country.

Human resources groups recommend companies create a formal policy with regard to exit interviews and that they be used for all voluntary departures, not employees who were laid off or fired. Business owners don’t need to conduct an exit interview with every employee who leaves, as not all turnover is undesirable. Companies should make the exit interview process a formal part of out-processing but need to realize some employees will still refuse and the company has no merit to force them to do the interview.

Here are some steps to follow from NFIB when developing an exit interview strategy:

Have someone other than the employee’s immediate supervisor — someone from human resources or a neutral manager or mentor is preferable — conduct the interview. The person needs to be skilled at gently probing for the truth while ensuring he or she is actively listening and will not take offense if the employee starts to vent. The departing employee’s immediate supervisor may have influenced the employee’s decision to leave, so he or she should not conduct the interview.

Explain the purpose of the exit interview, which is to determine whether there are problems within the worksite that need to be addressed to prevent further loss of employees.

Assure the employee that the interview is confidential and that all information is used anonymously. No specific comments will be attributed to him or her.

Keep the process simple and focused on specific areas.

Conduct the interview one on one and in private, so the employee doesn’t feel “ganged up” on.

Give the employee an opportunity to summarize his or her employment experience before specific questions are asked.

The exit interview won’t tell you everything you want to know, but it can be a start to learn why good employees leave and what can be done to make the company a better place to work.

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