Exit Interviews

Q: What is Mountain States’ stance on exit interviews?
A: Done properly, exit interviews can be a great source of information for improving your company’s approach to HR. Outgoing employees are often all too happy to dish on operations, morale, and weak managers and supervisors. Therefore, when an employee gives notice of separation, waste no time in inviting him or her to participate in an exit interview.
It is common for an employee’s new position to offer more pay, even when pay was not the motivating reason for leaving your company. Therefore, don’t belabor the issue of pay in the exit interview. If your outgoing employee states pay as the reason for leaving, accept it at face value, but drill down for other reasons. Questions to ask include:
  • Apart from more pay, why are you leaving?
  • Why now?
  • Do you have a new job? If so, where? (Many employees will be reluctant to disclose their new employer. Don’t be too insistent.)
  • What did you like best and least about your job?
  • Do you wish to address issues you had with particular coworkers?
  • Were there any employment practices you found objectionable?
  • If you were in charge, what improvements would you make to any aspects of the company or to your department or work group?
  • What could the company have done to prevent you from leaving?
  • Would you consider working for the company again in the future?
  • If yes, would you request reassignment to a different department or work group?

Your goal in conducting the exit interview is to mine candid information. Therefore, make sure the interviewer is adept at interviewing employees—for whatever reason—and is also far enough removed from the chain of command that your outgoing employee is not reticent to provide accurate details.

An interview conducted by a thoughtful representative conveying genuine interest in the departing employee’s answers can often secure another benefit: it can convert former employees into corporate ambassadors willing to “good-mouth” the company in critical forums like Glassdoor. As Laura Woods aptly points out in this issue, the value of that publicity is enormous.

This brief treatment of the issue is just that. For personalized assistance with this or any other topic, just give us a call.

These materials are general in nature not to be construed as the rendering of legal or management advice. Send your questions to cgraves@msec.org. Please tell us if you would prefer your identity not be mentioned in our answer.