Conducting exit interviews is a valuable practise that leads to a more informed and responsive organisation. In this article, we aim to explain what an exit interview is, why it is valuable, and some of the best exit interview questions to ask.
What is an exit interview?
An exit interview is a one-to-one meeting between an exiting employee and a human resources professional, neutral third-party interviewer or employer. The interview is an opportunity to ask questions about your employee’s decision to leave. It’s also an excellent opportunity to learn from their experiences with your business, good or bad, so you can continue to grow as a company.
It is important to have a well-structured and pre-planned exit interview so that both parties benefit from the process.
5 Company benefits of conducting an exit interview
1. Insightful feedback: Exit interviews provide departing employees with an opportunity to candidly share their experiences, concerns, and suggestions, which can reveal underlying issues within the organisation, a particular team, or a leader.
2. Improvement opportunities: Feedback gathered from exit interviews helps companies identify areas for improvement, whether related to company culture, management, or operational processes.
3. Retaining talent: Understanding the reasons for an employee's departure helps a company address issues and potentially retain other valuable employees considering leaving for similar reasons.
4. Enhancing company culture: By addressing concerns raised in exit interviews, companies can create a more positive and engaging work environment, boosting morale and productivity among current employees.
5. Legal protection: Exit interviews can help protect the company legally by demonstrating that they have taken additional steps to address workplace issues.
Eleven best exit interview questions to ask
1. What led you to start searching for a new job?
This is an open-ended question, which makes it a gentle way to open an exit interview. It gives your employee scope to direct the conversation to their biggest concerns, enabling you to focus your conversation accordingly.
Begin to look for patterns in the answers across departing employees. By observing these patterns, you will identify specific things your company can affect to limit the cost and consequence of losing valuable employees.
2. What did you like best and least about your job and this company?
Although an employee might focus on the negative due to their decision to leave, most will be able to identify something they enjoyed about the job or company. It's important to know what you're doing right and stick with it.
The second part of the question gives them a chance to tell you about any challenges they have faced in their role. Use what your employee says as a basis for further discussion about how your company can improve.
3. How has your job changed since you joined us?
As an employer or HR manager, you are not always aware of how a role may evolve over time.
These changes may reflect your company's evolving needs, but they can also indicate other factors, such as understaffing or management issues, which indicate a larger problem.
No matter why the job has changed, you need to understand the jobs current form before hiring someone new. This question provides important context for writing a great job description and employee profile for whoever replaces your departing employee.
4. Do you feel you were given adequate support, resources, and tools to succeed in your job?
Your organisation should be aware if your exiting employee does not feel well-supported in their role. It indicates a significant area for improvement. Employees need to be able to trust their managers and senior leadership for support.
In asking for feedback, you acquire a valuable perspective on your company culture. If there's a problem, your employees probably have ideas about how it can be solved. Make use of that insight, and you'll benefit everyone.
5. Do you feel you received adequate training and upskilling opportunities?
- Seventy-seven percent of employees are ready to upskill or retrain.
- Seventy-four percent of employees see upskilling as an important professional responsibility.
- Ninety-three percent of CEOs who use upskilling programmes see an improvement in talent retention.
Respond to departing employees' feedback about growth opportunities and boost retention by expanding training options.
6. Do you feel that your contribution has been recognised and valued?
Every employee wants to feel recognised and appreciated at work. Employees who feel undervalued are more likely to look for a new job.
If your employees do not feel acknowledged, it will lead to morale issues, which impacts staff turnover which leads to further problems with morale throughout your company.
Use this question to determine whether your company is doing enough to recognise its employees. If your feedback is negative, it may be time to look more closely at ways to show them appreciation.
7. Were you happy with your working arrangements?
Flexibility is a growing desire among skilled workers, particularly female employees. This would be a good opportunity to ask your employee about his/her satisfaction with the current working arrangement.
In a survey by McKinsey, twenty-one percent of respondents cited flexible working arrangements as a top priority when looking for a new job. Flexibility allows employees to incorporate a better work-life balance, which leads to better mental health and prevents burnout.
Improve your current staff's work arrangements by understanding what your departing employees want from their work arrangements.
8. How would you describe the overall culture of our company?
The shared values of a company's culture are fundamental to an efficient team, and understanding your company's culture allows you to hire more efficiently and establish common ground with your employees.
A survey of 2,000 employees looking for a new job found that company culture was one of the main reasons. In fact, seventy-one percent were willing to accept a pay cut for the right cultural fit.
When you ask this question, if you don't receive answers that align with your company culture goals, it may be time to rethink your approach.
9. What was your experience working with your manager?
According to a recent study, poor management is the third most common reason people leave their jobs. This proves how vital it is for employees and managers to be on the same page - and how having a bad relationship with a manager will ruin the whole experience.
The bad relationship may be caused by something as simple as a mismatch in leadership styles, but it may also be indicative of a larger issue with the manager's approach.
Use this question to determine whether your company has a management problem if multiple employees leave under the same manager.
10. What do you think the company could have done differently to retain you?
The ultimate goal of these questions is to learn what you could have done better to retain your employee. This question usually gets right to the point of the exit interview in most cases.
This question is more focused on potential changes than on root causes. It asks directly for feedback and suggestions that may benefit your remaining staff.
Since this question is so broad, it will help you focus on issues that are hard to spot at first glance. A salary difference between your company and a competitor is an obvious reason for an employee to leave, but other concerns, such as inefficient processes or unresponsive managers, will be more difficult to pinpoint.
11. Do you have any more suggestions for how we could improve as a company?
Even if you plan your exit interview meticulously, there's always the risk that you won't ask the right questions to prompt your employee to share their experiences. You could miss out on vital information that can help you improve your company if you don't give them the opportunity to share additional comments.
This final question is designed to cover any bases you may have missed during the exit interview.
Your organisation will turn the loss of an employee into a valuable resource for future hiring and retention by asking the right exit interview questions. With this valuable information on hand, you can tackle your next hire confidently and successfully.
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