Exit interviews can provide you with valuable insight into the functioning of your company. Some employers believe that exit interviews collect information too late in the employment process. However, this type of interview provides exactly the information you need to improve procedures and policies within your organization. After all, the most useful feedback isn’t the positive kind but the negative kind. Negative feedback lets you know what can or should be fixed so you can make things better than ever before. By following exit interview best practices and by asking the right questions, you can reap the full benefits of these information-gathering tools.

Exit Interviews: Best Practices

To maximize your exit interviews, follow these best practices:

Conduct an exit interview for every departing employee.

It’s important to gather information from many sources. This way, you can compare and contrast interview outcomes to determine the most pressing issues, and work on these first. Multiple sources of information will also help you sort out what is actually happening within your company (if you hear it from more than one person) from what an ex-employee perceived to be happening.

Have an impartial third party conduct the interview.

An employee may be reluctant to speak with his or her manager in an exit interview, especially if the reason for leaving had to do with that manager. Ask a member of human resources to conduct the exit interview. This way, employees may feel more comfortable giving an honest assessment of their reasons for leaving.

Maintain a strict no-retaliation

Another thing that may influence an employee’s honesty during an exit interview is the belief that his or her answers may ruin a good job reference. For this reason, maintain a no-retaliation policy. You may even wish to have this policy in writing and ask the employee to sign off on it before the exit interview.

Important Questions to Ask

For best results during your company’s exit interviews, ask the following questions:

  • Why have you decided to leave the company?
  • Was there anything that could have been done differently during your employment that would have prevented you from leaving?
  • What did like most and least about working here?
  • How would you rate your manager’s support in helping you achieve your job goals?
  • How often and what type of job feedback did you receive from your manager?
  • Do you have any advice to pass on the person who fills your position?

Questions like these can help you gather information that can be useful for improving the functioning of the employee’s department, or the organization as a whole.

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