How to Maximize Exit Interviews

exit-interviewThere can be a lot of value in exit interviews, but many businesses don’t interview employees as they transition to a new position because they don’t know what to do with the answers. To get the most out of your exit interviews, use these tips to improve the process and create a more cohesive workplace.

Standardize the Process

Just like the onboarding process, exit interviews need to be a standardized affair. A set of questions, a policy, and a timeline for when the interview is to take place is essential for gaining the most value out of your exit interviews. Without a clear policy, exit interview data is fractured and meaningless. Make your exit interviews clear and concise.

Consider a Waiting Period

One of the biggest drawbacks to conducting exit interviews is that many employees consider the constructive criticism needed during exit interviews a form of burning their bridges. Despite leaving the company, they still want to retain their contacts and may be nervous about voicing concerns. To maximize the value gained from exit interviews, it may be better to wait until after the employee has started their new position. This allows more objectivity and better insight when compared with a new company. 

Find the Right Interviewer

Creating a process isn’t enough to gain the most value out of your exit interviews, you also need the right person. Some employees may be agitated with the company and if the interviewer seems uninterested or dismissive, they won’t be able to collect helpful answers. Interviewers need to be trained for the task to ensure they actively listen and can ask appropriate questions when talking to the departing employee. Interviewers should ideally be from a different department so employees are ensured more anonymity during the process.

Conduct Annual Reviews

Whether the company is conducting exit interviews on a weekly basis or a quarterly basis, it can be hard to separate the forest from the trees. Recurring themes that are negatively effecting the company may not be immediately evident from a single exit interview. That’s why it’s pivotal for companies to conduct annual exit interview reviews to look for themes using the entire pool of former employees. From looking at the data for every exit interview conducted in the past year, employers can note trends by department and make focused changes to their workplace.

Ask About Process

The reason for leaving a company can be varied. Often, the reason has little to do with the company and more to do with the employee’s career and family. Companies may not think they have anything to gain from these employees because they are overall satisfied with the work they performed at the business. Not so. No matter how great the workplace is, front-line employees can identify places where the process isn’t ideal. Instead of focusing on the reason for resignation, exit interviewers should ask about the employee’s work duties and how those could be improved. To get lean and maximize exit interviews, focus on the process over the complaints.

Make the Changes

The value of an exit interview has little to do with the actual interview. Few employers are trying to get their employee to stay and fewer employees are looking to change their mind. Instead, the exit interview process should benefit your remaining employees. You want to identify and eliminate those issues that are making them unhappy and retain their service. Exit interviews should be performed with a plan in mind for remedying those issues that cause employees to leave.

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