Columbia EDP Blog

Exit Interviews - To Do Them or Not

careerWith the recent pandemic, more companies are seeing a higher turnover rate.  If you are seeing this in your company, have you considered holding exit interviews?  

Exit interviews can be a very useful tool - if you're prepared to act on what you learn - so it's great that you are thinking of using them.  Here are some basics when holding exit interviews.  

Exit interviews typically use one of two formats: an in-person interview or a form the employee completes on thier own.  An in-person (or video conference) interview allows for follow-up questions if the employee says something you'd like to kmow more about, while a written form lets the employee give more thought to each question and answer at a pace that works for them.  They may also be more honest if thye don't have to answer questions face to face.  

Tips before you get started

  • If meeting face-to-face, conduct the exit interview as close as ossible to the end of employement (e.g., the last hour of of thier last day of work).  
  • Meeting somewhere private and make sure to allow enough time for a meaningful conversation. 
  • Avoid having the employee's direct supervisor conduct the interview, if possible. 
  • Explain that the interview is for informational purposes and for the betterment of the organization and thier coworkers. 
  • Say that you will take notes and that you will keep them as confidential as possible.  Note that certain issues, if raised, must be discussed with management. 
  • Assure them that concerns or information shared in good faith will not be communicated to future employers or negatively affect a reference check.  

Questions to Ask

Generally you'll start with why the employee is leaving.  Ask why they sought employment elsewhere, whether the company or thier manager could have done anything differenetly to keep them there, and what the employee thinks thier new company will do better.  

If they had a bed experience at your company, find out why. Ask the employee to talk about any problems, unresolved issues, or other matters not handled to thier satisfaction. Did thier supervisor demonstrate fair and equal treatment?  Did they provide recognition on the job?  Did they foster cooperation and teamwork?  You might get answers you don't want to hear, but they're invaluable if you're serious about improving employee retention. 

Working relationships are also foundational to employee morale and success, so ask about situations, practices, or behaviors that helped or hindered collaboration.  Was communication good or bad?  What made it that way?  What practices or working conditions were beneficial and should be maintained or enhanced? 

The exit interview is also a good opportunity to get the employee's perspective on thier training, benefits, and the growth potential the employee felt they had, as well as the performance review process, and thier assessment of employee morale.  Finally, once you're done with your questions, ask the employee if there's anything they'd like to add.  

You'll probably want to follow a similar line of questioning if you request a written response, but keep in mind that the employee probably won't want to spend a lot of time on it, so I'd suggest keeping it to five questions at most.  

Have more questions about conducting exit interviews?  We can help.  Contact us


Posted Date: 2020-09-30

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