Check all your boxes: How to conduct an exit interview

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Check all your boxes: How to conduct an exit interview

When someone tries to quit, it’s better to let them go instead of trying to convince them to stay. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from their experience to improve your employee retention.

Conduct an exit interview with every employee who leaves your organization–even the ones who didn’t leave voluntarily. It’s important to identify anywhere your company’s weaknesses are and where you can improve.

How to nail exit interviews

Ensure honest answers

Your goal for an exit interview is not to be reassured that nothing is wrong. You want to get to the bottom of why someone is leaving, the good, bad, and ugly. Ensure honest answers by clarifying this, and asking non-leading questions.

Make it clear that you’re looking to hear their complaints, in addition to what went well. Provide a safe environment for them to voice their concerns, and conduct the exit interview in confidentiality. Make it clear that no negative consequences will come to them if they share poor reviews of their managers, or are brutally honest with their complaints.

Make it worth their time to participate

Making an exit interview mandatory is one option, but it’s also important to make it worth their time. Show that you appreciate them taking their time to give you full answers, instead of rushing through the exit interview, by providing snacks and coffee or providing lunch. If you’re operating in a startup, and a manager or founder conducts the exit interviews, you can also take the former employee out to lunch after their exit interview.

Questions to ask

Below are some sample questions you can ask in your exit interview.

  • When and why did you begin looking for a new job?
  • What are 3 things you didn’t like about working here?
  • Did you feel well-equipped to do your job with us?
  • Did you share your concerns with anyone else in the company? What was their response?
  • How would you describe our company culture?
  • Why did you decide to take the job offer at your new company?
  • What could we have done differently?
  • What was your relationship with your manager like? What about your peers?
  • Would you ever consider coming back to work with us? What would have to change?
  • What do you like about the company?
  • Did you get enough feedback about how you were performing?
  • Would you recommend us as a place to work?

Tip: Ask them if it’s okay to follow up, and if so, capture their personal email address.

Use what you learn

Finally, it’s important to use what you learn from your exit interviews to improve.

What are some ways exit interviews have shown you an area for improvement?


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