What is an exit interview?
Exit interviews are conducted with employees, once they have resigned before they leave the company.
Why are exit interviews so important?
The reason that companies have exit interviews is to gain valuable information which can prove to be useful in all aspects of the work environment, including aspects such as the work culture, day to day concerns, processes, issues around management style, workplace ethics and employee morale.
All companies should conduct exit interviews. An exit interview will give the company the opportunity to get the opinions of those leaving the company in terms of how they perceive the company, and most importantly, why they would want to leave the company. Once employees have handed in their resignation and know they are going to be leaving they are far more likely to open up and be honest when asked to provide constructive criticism in terms of how they perceive the company, the way its run, its culture, its management style, the opportunities offered for career growth etc.
By the company examining and keeping track of the outcome of exit interviews over a period of time, employers can begin to identify trends and patterns over time, as to why people are wanting to leave the company. It also gives the company the opportunity to discover why turnover may be particularly high in certain departments, and to identify problem areas such as management issues, or whether the company’s remuneration offered is maybe not in line with their competitors.
An exit interview will also give the employer the opportunity to sort out issues with those leaving the company on bad terms. It gives the employee an opportunity to get whatever issues they have out in the open, where they can be discussed, and hopefully resolved.
However most importantly information gathered during the exit interview, can help to address problem areas within the company, in order to prevent more resignations.
One aspect that should always be covered during an interview is that of the individual’s perception of management. Ask about how the individual perceives their direct manager, there are reports that as many as 5 out of 10 employees when asked why they were leaving their current job, said it was because of the behaviour, or management style of their direct manager.
An exit interview should typically be conducted by a Human Resources employee or an objective person not directly involved with the individual. This allows for objectivity, as well as the opportunity for the individual to be able to voice their concerns and gripes, without feeling awkward or threatened in any way. The individual is far more likely to open up and be honest around their reasons for leaving, if they are talking to somebody who is impartial, and not somebody they have been working with on a day to day basis, or one of their managers.
At the end of the day, exit interviews can be extremely effective tools when used properly, in terms of assessing and analysing overall employee engagement. The onus in on HR to do these interviews, and to then make effective use of the information that is gained during exit interviews. Ultimately if this information is used properly it can be extremely valuable in terms of playing a part in preventing future employees from leaving the company, and improving the company’s overall working environment.