Exit Interviews

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Friday, Jun 07, 2024

It is important that you conduct an exit interview when an employee leaves the company. When offboarding employees, many employers are unsure how to conduct exit interviews.

An exit interview can help you identify opportunities or implement changes to your business’ policies and procedures.

In this guide, we’ll explain what an exit interview is, common questions to ask during an exit interview, and the benefits of conducting one.

What is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview is an open discussion between the employer and the employee about leaving the company.

They are an opportunity for the employer to assess their organization through the departing employee’s feedback. This could involve organizational changes or simply how to improve the workplace.

What is the Purpose of an Exit Interview?

The employer’s goal during an exit interview is to understand why the employee left. They can also be used to determine if the business should be improved, changed, or remain the same.

As an employer, you must be prepared to listen to any concerns that the employee had during their employment. This may include the workplace culture, public image, or the business’ leadership and structure. Other reasons to use an exit interview may include:

  • Recognizing your company’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Narrowing areas of improvement.
  • Managing employee expectations.
  • Fostering a positive workplace culture.
  • Ending the employment relationship on good terms.

For workplaces that have a toxic work environment, exit interviews are a helpful tool to identify and remedy such issues. They can help you determine whether discrimination,harassment,or a failure to accommodate were factors in the employee leaving.

The end goal is to address issues within the workplace to increase retention of employees and decrease turnover.

What are Common Questions during an Exit Interview?

Exit interview questions should be based on the employee’s departure and the time spent with your company. Topics to ask may include how to improve business operations, health & safety, or employee work ethic and morale. Exit interview questions may include:

  • What motivated you to look for a new job?
  • What was the most challenging part of the job?
  • What did you enjoy most about your position?
  • Do you feel you were given enough support in your job?
  • Do you have any suggestions about how the job could be improved?
  • If you could change one thing about the company, what would it be and how would you go about it?

Exit interviews are not meant to interrogate the employee. You are there to obtain valuable feedback from the employee about the positives and the negatives of the workplace.

What are Exit Interview Best Practices

When conducting exit interviews, employers must be mindful of a few practices to ensure they receive the most optimal feedback:

Schedule an Employee Exit Interview

Employers should always schedule an exit interview in advance of the employee’s last day. Staff leaving the business are often busy with their workload and training their replacements.

You should give advance written notice of the exit interview to allow the employee to feel prepared for the meeting.

Offer Different Formats of an Exit Interview

There are various forms an exit interview may take place, including:

  • Telephone or a written questionnaire.
  • In-person meeting
  • Virtual call.

It is recommended to give your employees options on how to conduct the exit interview.

Create a Comfortable Setting

It is important that you create a comfortable setting during the exit interview. This may allow the employee to feel more open about providing feedback and their experience.

You may also opt to have a representative of the business conducting the exit interview rather than a direct manager. If a direct manager is conducting the interview, the employee may feel less inclined to open up about their experience.

Create an Exit Interview Checklist

You should create an exit interview checklist to track any trends with departing employees. This may include employees departing the workplace because of poor workplace culture or issues with direct managers. An exit interview checklist will assist you to identify any issues in the workplace.

Some issues you may wish to explore during an exit interview are:

  • The skill sets required for the job.
  • The employee’s opinion on compensation.
  • Ideas on how the company can improve.
  • If there are issues of workplace harassment.

Are Exit Interviews mandatory?

There is no legal requirement to hold an exit interview under employment standards legislation. However, you may choose to include the need for one in the employment contract or company policy.

You should advise employees that the information may be shared internally to better your business practices, unless otherwise indicated as private.

Are exit interviews confidential?

Exit interviews do not have to be confidential. You may advise the departing employee that the exit interview may be shared internally, or you can make them confidential if you wish. Just keep in mind that the employee’s feedback should not impact an employee’s reference.

Get Advice on how to conduct Exit Interviews with BrightHR

The next time an employee resigns, you should strongly consider conducting an exit interview. The information from an exit interview will help you better align your business and position you to keep talented employees within your company.

Be attentive and implement the necessary changes that departing employees have about your company.

If you need assistance with exit interviews or developing an exit interview checklist, our BrightAdvice service allows you to receive quality advice on any employment issues you may have.

Contact us on 1 888 220 4924 or book a demo today.

Jenny Marsden

Associate Director of Service

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