Human resources specialists frequently stress the importance of the first days (weeks) of a new employee in the company – that is, the onboarding process. This is because the way the recruiter’s implementation goes (familiarization with duties, integration with the team, understanding of the organizational culture, etc.) determines whether they’ll say with the company at all. Here, however, we can note that more and more companies (regardless of industry or size) are opting for the so-called exit interview. That guarantees that both the beginning and ut also its end (the offboarding process) involve as positive an experience as possible. Below we explain what exactly an exit interview is and what benefits it brings, as well as point out the best questions to ask a departing employee.

Exit interview – what does it consist of?

An exit interview is a formal meeting that is a vital part of the offboarding process. It is attended by both the departing employee and an HR representative (and sometimes the existing supervisor) attend it. Its purpose is to obtain feedback from the employee who is leaving the workplace regarding, among other things, the reasons for his departure and his overall experience in the organization. This type of conversation provides an opportunity to identify potential problems in the company, and then implement appropriate corrective actions.

Sometimes companies choose to send an anonymous questionnaire to an employee to express their opinion in writing. However, it should be pointed out that face-to-face meetings yield better results (often the outgoing employee opens up more during the conversation and honestly expresses his or her opinion, while it is tiring for him or her to give a comprehensive answer in writing).

What does an exit interview look like?

An exit interview should take place at the end of the notice period, preferably on the last or penultimate day of work. During this type of conversation, the departing employee has the opportunity to share his observations, opinions, and suggestions about his work, relations with other employees, management, organizational culture, or professional development. Often during the conversation, topics related to compensation and employee benefits are also raised.

It is important that the employee feels free to express his opinions without fear of negative consequences for himself (e.g., an unpleasant atmosphere in the workplace during the last few days of work, not receiving promised references, or a negative opinion of him as an employee after he leaves).

Benefits of conducting an exit interview

Why do companies choose to conduct an exit interview? First of all, this type of interview allows you to gain valuable information about the reasons why an employee decides to leave the company. It allows for a better understanding of problems or shortcomings in the organization that may lead to the loss of valuable employees.

The information gathered during this type of conversation also often indicates which elements (such as organizational culture, management, professional development, or compensation, for example) need to be rethought and whose changes can lead to increased retention in positions. What’s more, this is the last chance to learn the employee’s opinion and show that you value it, allowing you to part on friendly terms – without the proverbial “burning of bridges.”

Exit interview – sample questions

During an exit interview, focus your questions on both the employee’s tenure at the company (to learn about the experience) and the reasons for leaving (to discover if there are reasons behind it related to the previous place of employment). Below we present the most significant questions, which provide an opportunity to analyze and possibly make significant changes.

  1. Why did you decide to leave the organization?
  2. What were your overall experiences and impressions of working for our company – both in the early days and beyond?
  3. How do you assess your relationship with your team and superiors?
  4. Did you feel comfortable with the company?
  5. Have you pursued your career/development goals at the company?
  6. How would you rate the company’s benefits policy/compensation/development opportunities?
  7. Did you feel that your opinions and suggestions were taken into account or considered by your superiors?
  8. Did you receive sufficient support and resources from the company necessary to do your job?
  9. Do you see any areas where our company can improve or make changes to attract and retain talented employees?
  10. Would you recommend your friends to work for the company?

Exit interview – summary

We should point out that the exit interview is an indispensable part of offboarding – and at the same time a valuable tool to obtain data for analysis and improvement of personnel policies, employee development, or improvement of the atmosphere in the workplace. Conclusions obtained from such interviews can also contribute to reducing employee turnover and increasing satisfaction among those currently employed. For such reasons, it is worth implementing this element of the offboarding process into the daily practice of the HR department, such as using the questions listed above. However, always take into account that each question should be tailored to a specific person, position, company, or situation – this way we will ensure the best possible results.

Read also: Preboarding – definition, rationale and 4 best practices

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Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.