Tips on Getting the Most Out of an Exit Interview

There’s a zombie outbreak that could infect your office. No, not the Walking Dead-type of threat, with shuffling monsters seeking out brains. Rather, we’re talking about the epidemic of zombie exit interviews menacing HR departments.

Here’s the process we’re talking about: Employees leave. HR professionals ask questions. But nothing changes.

One study published a few years ago showed that 90% of the Fortune 500 used exit interviews as part of their standard policy. However, of these, only 40% saw the process as a successful endeavor.

The gap between those figures represents the zombie exit interviews. Without follow-up, these discussions become inconsequential exercises that serve no purpose other than to check a box on an HR form. This represents a missed opportunity.

The Value of Exit Interviews

Getting the most out of exit interviews can significantly boost your long-term growth prospects. You’ll be able to attract better employees and to retain them longer. In addition, you can bolster morale and unlock your team’s full potential.

Exit interviews achieve these benefits through several avenues at once. The basic advantage comes from the additional information you receive. However, there are some added bonuses to keep in mind:

Diffuse Any Bad Feelings: There are plenty of places for ex-employees to vent their feelings. You don’t want complaints showing up on sites like Glassdoor. Giving a departing employee the chance to air their grievances in a controlled environment can diffuse the situation and protect your employer brand.

Improve Employee Relations in the Future: The data you acquire from the exit interview should help shape policy going forward. By implementing changes based on the answers you receive, you can boost morale and lower turnover in the future.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open: The split with your departing employee might not be permanent. Careers are long. Maintaining good relations keeps the door open to a rehire at some point.

Getting the Most Out of Your Exit Interviews

As we mentioned before, it’s not enough to conduct exit interviews. The simple act of having these conversations doesn’t necessarily lead to improved operations. You need to implement the process correctly.

With that in mind, here are a few general tips if you want to get the most out of your exit interviews:

Stay Professional

Breakups hurt. This is as true for professional relationships as it is for romantic ones. But don’t let that cloud the process. You’re not interested in office gossip or in settling scores.

Also, don’t use the exit interview as a last-ditch attempt to prevent the departure. Consider the breakup complete. You just want to gather information that can help with future employee relations.

Have Questions Composed in Advance

Don’t improvise your way through an exit interview. Think about the information you want to get. Then, compose questions that maximize your ability to gain those facts.

Remember: this is a data-acquisition exercise. Specifics matter. You want to drill down on the key facts and gather information in the way best designed to lead to actionable intel.

Take the Feedback Seriously

The exit interview doesn’t hold much value if you don’t act on the information. Once you have the answers, make sure you enact a process to analyze what you’ve learned. From there, think about how you’ll use those insights to upgrade your policies and procedures.

Exit interviews provide an excellent resource as you look to improve your team-building skills. As you look for replacements, turn to expert recruiters, like SmartTalent, to ensure that you find the perfect workers for your open positions.

Contact SmartTalent today to enhance your HR capabilities.


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