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Exit interviews

By CCIWA Editor 

Exit interviews allow employers to capture constructive feedback from departing employees regarding the work environment, job content, management and their reasons for leaving the organisation.

Why conduct exit interviews?

Given the significant costs associated with high turnover, companies need to look at implementing strategies to retain employees. Information obtained from departing employees through exit interviews can greatly assist in the development of such strategies.

Exit interviews are often also seen by remaining employee’s as a sign of positive culture, because the company is taking an interest in its staff and is prepared to invest time into improving the working environment.

How do I conduct an exit interview?

Employers must first establish how they wish to conduct the interview. Generally, exit interviews are either conducted face-to-face, or via the completion of a written questionnaire.

Face-to-face interviews allow flexibility for the interviewer to focus on the unique characteristics of each employee and the circumstances that surround their departure.

Prior to their departure, an employee should be approached about partaking in an exit interview. Whilst an employer cannot force an employee to partake in an exit interview, employers should communicate the purpose of the interview and inform the employee that it is a good opportunity for them to provide some constructive feedback.

Prior to the interview, the employee should be informed of who will be able to access the information obtained through the interview. They should be afforded the option of consenting to the information being given to third parties, including relevant supervisors or managers.

What sorts of questions should I ask?

It is a good idea to seek both quantitative and qualitative information from exit interviews. Quantitative questions lend themselves to analysis of any trends apparent contributing to the decision of employees to exit the organisation. Qualitative questions allow the interviewer to seek more detailed information unique to each individual employee.

When developing questions for the exit interview, it is common for the following areas to be covered (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Experience during the recruitment and hiring process
  • Usefulness and thoroughness of induction and orientation
  • Access to and quality of training
  • Performance management and performance review processes
  • The position tasks and responsibilities
  • Support throughout employment from management and peers
  • Effectiveness of communication across all levels and all departments within the organisation
  • Satisfaction with total compensation/ rewards and recognition
  • Satisfaction with physical working environment.

The interview may include some of the following example questions:

  • What is your primary reason for leaving the organisation?
  • Is there anything you wish you had been told when you commenced with the company/ in the role?
  • Were you provided with everything you needed to be successful and meet your performance expectations in the role?
  • What aspects of your employment do you feel were managed well?
  • What aspects of your employment could have been managed better?
  • Would you refer a friend or acquaintance to work for the company?

After the interview

It is important that the information obtained through exit interviews is considered and acted upon. A lack of action may result in a loss of credibility of management and a reduction in satisfaction in the workplace.

It is a good idea to develop a plan for the evaluation and implementation of information gathered by exit interviews.

Knowledge transfer

Exit interviews are also a good way for employers to retain knowledge from exiting employees.

Possible questions to obtain such information may include:

  • How might your successor benefit from your knowledge and experience prior to your departure?
  • Would you be happy to take part in a meeting with managers/ replacements/ colleagues in order to share some of your knowledge prior to your departure?
  • What can we do to enable you to share your knowledge and experience with your colleagues?

Things to consider

  • It is important that the interviewer does not influence the employee with any bias or leading questions.
  • It is a good idea to develop a plan for evaluating and implementing the information obtained through exit interviews in order to give purpose to the interview and guide the actions of the interviewer.
  • The interviewer must keep their emotions in check, particularly if the employee is making personal comments or becomes offensive. There is no obligation to continue an interview if it becomes unproductive.

CCIWA can provide more detailed information to assist you in getting the most out of your exit interviews. For further assistance call CCI’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or email advice@cciwa.com.

Exit interviews allow employers to capture constructive feedback from departing employees regarding the work environment, job content, management and their reasons for leaving the organisation.

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