Who Really Uses Exit Interviews?



Over the course of my career, I’ve hired hundreds of people. Some were exceptional employees who were major contributors to our success. Others didn’t work out. Some moved on for bigger and better opportunities and I wished them well. Some I would have gladly held the door open for and shoved them out. But experience showed me there is always lessons to be learned for all employees who head off into new and potentially greener pastures and a constructive exit interview has a role to play.

All employees have a talent and the role of the business is to ensure that the roles they are asked to do matches that talent. I have never found anyone to be lazy or not to try but we have undoubtedly tried to fit round pegs in square holes. You need to hire the right person for the role and correctly identify the skill set needed. Equally as much as you nurture and grow staff, on occasion your business may not be at the stage to offer them the next progression in their career. That’s fine too – don’t beat yourself up over it. You did a great job nurturing them and the business did well having them there. It means you got the process right from hiring.

 So why bother with exit interviews? The key point of an exit interview for me is to gain intelligence that lets you learn how you need to adapt your onboarding process. It’s not about trying to change the employee’s decision, the time for that has well passed. Equally it needs to be a constructive discussion with the prime objective of gaining knowledge for your recruitment process. For the hires that worked out learn how can we repeat, for those that were a disaster on both sides – what do we need to adapt.

An exit interview with a terminating employee is your opportunity to obtain information about what your organisation is doing well—and, what your organisation needs to do to improve. Done well, and with the intention to use the information wisely, exit interviews are key to organisation improvement since rarely will you receive such frank feedback from current employees. I have typically found exit interviews to be open and frank discussions.

How to Perform an Exit Interview

Exit interviews are commonly performed in person with the departing employee.

Sometimes, the manager conducts the exit interview, but most often, a Human Resources staff person holds the exit interview. Some organisations use written exit interviews but many HR employees are proponents of talking with the departing employee to more completely explore and understand his or her views during the exit interview.

The exit interview questions you ask are key to obtaining actionable information.

I’ve seen internet blogs with screeds of possible questions suggested but as the desired outcome is to understand how you can learn, at MindGenius we have stripped the exit interview back to simply 10 questions. If there are more topics that the employee wants to share their opinion on then that’s fine, but our focus was always on ensuring what we could learn from and do better.

As ever, consistent with all of our processes at MindGenius, we use Barvas to capture and manage the process and have attached the template if you would like to find out more.

Get started with the exit interview template