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Exit Interview Tips with question examples

An exit interview is a meeting with a departing employee to close out their relationship with their workplace. It covers some administration, relationship management and some honest feedback.

3/15/2022 Management & Leadership

Should you force employees to complete the interview?

Yes. You should make these obligatory as some employees won’t want to perform them. If given the chance they’ll simply opt-out. That said, if they outright refuse to participate then there’s not much you can do about it.

When should you run the exit interview?

Their last week, ideally their last day is the best time to do so. That way you can go through your administration checklist as well. You may find that the employee is also a little more relaxed as it’s their last day and thus, more likely to be frank with their feedback.

Who runs the interview?

The point of this interview is to get honest feedback on your workplace. The direct manager of the leaving employee is not always the best person to run this exit interview simply because that relationship might be the reason the employee is leaving. Any other talent leader would be a good candidate to run this interview instead. Someone in the Talent Team or a colleague of the manager or a manager one level up.

It’s just critical that the chosen person has a high empathy level and good active listening skills. These meetings could get negative, so the interviewer needs to keep a cool head and ask the right questions to get valuable feedback.

What about an exit survey?

An exit survey is a great way to gather some additional information and to get both parties to apply their mind to the meeting before the time.

It’s not recommended to do only an exit survey without an exit interview as feedback during such surveys can often be poor.

 

Planning the Meeting Agenda

Johan Pretorius, Operations Manager at Polymorph Systems has provided his ideal agenda and questions below.

Administration

  • Company Hardware all returned?
  • Company Software Access Revoked?
  • Destroyed company information (e.g., password database on a personal smartphone)?
  • Timesheets and Projects updated?
  • Project Handovers completed?

Top Questions

  • What worked during your employment here?
  • What didn’t work?
  • What can we improve?
  • What was your relationship with your manager like?
  • Did Polymorph help you accomplish your professional development and career goals?
  • What caused you to start looking for a new job in the first place?

Sharing the findings

There’s no point in conducting these meetings if the feedback isn’t acted on. This means you need some way to make the information digestible and put it in front of senior decision-makers. The answer to that would be unique to your organisation. A simple writeup, survey, data table or software are all options here.

Final tips

Exit interviews are a lag feedback mechanism so other tools like Engagement Surveys and Focus Groups are better ways to get more timely feedback.

Special consideration should be given to exit interviews for employees who had their employment terminated. HR typically needs to be involved here.

Aggregating and then scrubbing the identities of the departing employees before reporting the feedback is a good way of keeping them anonymous. A policy like this will make departing employees more likely to be honest and transparent with their feedback.


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WRITTEN BY
JP Olivier
Co-Founder of Roslin, chartered accountant, self-taught coder, entrepreneur and investor. JP loves working with technology and is passionate about good management and leadership. He is active on Linkedin and Twitter.