Exit Interviews

Exit Interviews are an opportunity to understand why an employee has decided to leave their position.  If the questions are asked at the point the employee resigns, you might decide you can address some of those uncovered reasons and they may decide to stay.  Even if neither party wants this outcome, if you don’t take the opportunity to uncover the real reasons you will never have the opportunity to take action. 

If scheduling an Exit Interview is a routine task when any employee resigns, no one makes assumptions about that person’s value or contribution.  Handing in your resignation is usually a big deal for any employee, if no one bothers to ask why they may assume you don’t care – this may be far from the truth. 

Even if you have instigated the employee’s exit, or welcome the news they are leaving, their data is still valid.  They may well be unhappy or bitter, however they have an opinion and you may learn something about your company you didn’t already know.  For example, the employee may not have performed well in the job but after talking to them you realise that the job they applied for wasn’t a true reflection of the job they were expected to do.  It may be best to part company, however you don’t want to find yourself in the same position with the next new recruit so revisit your Job Description and Job Advert so they reflect reality.  Maybe in these circumstances you don’t take everything the exiting employee says on ‘face value’ – but you may learn something new about what’s going on in your company. 

 If you want to consider the opportunity of changing your employee’s mind about leaving, schedule the Exit Interview as soon as possible after you have heard they are leaving.  

You may ‘get wind’ that this employee is unhappy or is looking for an alternative position.  Signs such as

  • scheduling odd half or full day holiday at short notice – are they attending interviews?
  • asking questions about their contractual obligations to you – i.e. the amount of notice they have to give or the nature of any restrictive covenants (which restrict their activities after they leave your employment)
  • expressing dissatisfaction about elements of their employment which you have not been able to address – for example you have had to turn down a request for a pay review or refuse their application for training

The employee may not be willing to discuss their situation, but if you approach the discussion in a supportive manner, explaining that they are valued and you are concerned that they may be looking to move, you may be able to uncover issues which are in the best interests of your business to act upon.