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How should interviews be conducted?
  • Several best practices can help a company conduct a useful exit interview, keeping the departing employee’s comfort and privacy in mind.

What information should employers gather in an exit interview? The reasons for the employee’s departure are a good place to start. From there, departing employees should be guided to indicate what the person liked or disliked during the employee’s tenure, and why. This may be company specific, but some discussion topics to consider include the following:

  • Selection/Hiring process,
  • Compensation/Benefits,
  • Job duties and expectations,
  • Training/Development opportunities,
  • Advancement,
  • Management and supervision,
  • Organizational culture, and
  • Policies/Procedures.

General questions may be asked regarding what the employees might miss about the organization or what the organization can do to make the position better for future employees. The conversation may be opened for general input on improvements the employees may see for the department or the organization as a whole. Perhaps the employees would refer colleagues to the organization, or perhaps not. Finding out why may help shed some light on good points the organization may want to highlight, and negative points that the organization may want to work on.

The employees may also be asked to provide input on the exit interview itself. Again, the setting should be conducive to making the departing employees comfortable. Employees should be told that the information will remain confidential and that the person being interviewed will remain anonymous. The employees should be treated with respect and consideration. Rushing through the process may make individuals feel that the person’s views are unimportant.

Exit interviews are best done face-to-face, and not with a survey or questionnaire. The latter may be used as a secondary method, however, if a face-to-face interview is not possible. The employees may not bother to return the questionnaire.

Conducting the interview in person provides the interviewer with more opportunity to gather in-depth information by watching for body language and other non-verbal cues, encouraging the employees to talk, or guiding the conversation to areas that may be only touched on in a survey.

The person conducting the interview should listen carefully and allow the employees to talk, and refrain from defending the organization’s stance. The interviewer should also take notes.