Defining the Exit Interview September 14 2015

A couple of weeks ago, you may have seen our Exit Interview template circulating around. Looking at it you may have thought, “Why should I interview an employee who doesn’t work for me anymore”, or “What exactly is the point of an exit interview”? When an employee leaves an organization, either voluntarily or involuntarily, there is always important information that can be learned. Perhaps there was an employee who felt disconnected form the team, and chose to leave for a workplace where they felt they would be better appreciated; maybe there was an employee who left because they felt that they were not able to perform to the standards of the company because they received inadequate training; sometimes people leave an organization because they have issues with management and a solution could be to have management training. This is the kind of information that can be gained by conducting an effective exit interview.

One definition of an exit interview found in an online article is as follows:

Exit interviews are interviews conducted with departing employees, just before they leave. From the employer's perspective, the primary aim of the exit interview is to learn reasons for the person's departure, on the basis that criticism is a helpful driver for organizational improvement.” 

Let’s break this down. “Exit interviews are interviews conducted with departing employees, just before they leave”. Just as the name would suggest, the interview is conducted prior to the employee departing from the organization. Notice that the line indicates “just before they leave”, meaning that it does not happen right when they give their 2 weeks’ notice. Employers should inform the departing employee that they wish to conduct the exit interview on their lat day of work. This can give that employee a chance to consider their time at work, and prepare for the interview, and where suggestions for improvements can be made.

“From the employer’s perspective, the primary aim of the exit interview is to learn reasons for the person’s departure…” For those of you who may be wondering what the point of an exit interview is, here you have it. The main focal point of the interview is to determine the reasoning behind the person’s departure. This interview is an opportunity for employers to gain valuable feedback on their organization, from the perspective of someone with whom the relationship did not work out, for whatever reason.

The feedback gained from these interviews can be both positive and negative. Positive feedback helps to reinforce what you are doing right as an organization, and the negative feedback can highlight the areas that need more attention. This brings us to the last little bit, “…on the basis that criticism is a helpful driver for organizational improvement”. This line basically speaks for itself. If there is something to be criticized, then there is something to be improved. Some improvements could include a better orientation processes, clearer communication channels, defined discipline procedures, and many more! All of these are extremely valuable information that could be learned through a simple five minute exit interview.