Get the Most Out of Exit Interviews

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in Firing,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

White Paper published by The HR Specialist, copyright 2007

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Knowing why employees leave is crucial to finding the cause for turnover. And exit interviews can be a great tool to obtain that feedback. Use these tips to make the most of those meetings:

  • Schedule it in advance. This sends the message that you take the exit interview seriously. Don't squeeze it in as the employee is cleaning out her desk.
  • Steer clear of personal questions that are illegal to ask in job interviews, such as "Are you married now?" If a departing employee later reapplied and you decided not to rehire her, she could claim that those personal questions made you biased.
  • Treat any mention of harassment or discrimination the same as you would any similar complaint by another worker. Federal law requires companies to investigate any claims of improper behavior, even if the victim has left the company.
  • Keep good records of what you hear in exit interviews. Take notes on the employee's actual comments, not your interpretations. Use quotation marks to signify an employee's exact words. Be clear and precise. Imagine a jury reading the notes (which could happen). Don't tape the exit interview; it would make the employee nervous.
  • Realize that confidentiality doesn't flow both ways during an exit interview. While you can, and should, tell employees that you won't share their comments with other employees, the employee is under no obligation to do the same. So don't bad-mouth other employees or make empty statements like, "We've had a lot of complaints about your boss."
  • Don't make promises like, "We'll give you a great recommendation." That statement could come back to haunt you?

11 Effective, Legal Questions

Here are some questions to help you design your own exit interview template:

  1. What factors led you to accept a job with us?
  2. Have your feelings changed since then?
  3. How would you describe the level of training you received here?
  4. How would you rate your job performance here?
  5. How would you rate the following aspects of your employment here? (List items such as pay, benefits, work environment and performance reviews, alongside a rating chart of excellent, good, fair and poor.)
  6. What did you enjoy about working here?
  7. How would you rate your supervisor in the following areas? (List items such as fairness, recognition, follows policy, encourages feedback, communicates effectively and knows how to do his/her job, alongside a rating chart.)
  8. If you returned to our company, would you like to work for the same supervisor?
  9. Are you leaving for a similar job?
  10. What role does salary play in your decision to leave?
  11. What could we have done to prevent you from leaving?

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