Exit interviews: Why employers should always have one

Desk meeting

Okay, who cares about exit interviews, right? They’re going, they haven’t done any work since last month, and I have better things to do.

It’s easy to see why exit interviews are the last thing either the leaver or the employer want to do. But there are some good reasons to put 30 mins in the diary and watch them joyfully tell you what mess your office is:

1) Learn lessons for the next one
You probably know why your employee is leaving, but try and get the whole story about their time at the company. It could be that a bad first few months set the tone for the rest of the appointment, or that a new management style led them to brush up their CV last year. Get the whole picture and see if anything needs to change for the next one in.

2) Ask about you, and ask them to be honest?
Yeah, I know. The idea of 360 degree feedback is great on paper, but the reality is that everyone looks after themselves (naturally) and ruining your relationship with your cranky boss who has the memory of an elephant may not be the best option. And, you are probably their reference too, so they will not burn all their bridges, but they will be more open. Ask, and suck it up. You need to know, for your team and so you can improve.

3) It’s a legal thing
By law you do not need an exit interview, but should you ever get into a dispute with the employee in the future then giving them an opportunity to air they problems or grievances ahead of leaving is worth doing. And if they do not raise any issues during the interview, but later do, then the fact that you have followed best practice will be in your favour.

4) You’re a good boss, it’s what you do
You probably can’t wait to get rid of the leaver. Walking around smiling and laughing as they drink the office coffee and surf the internet all afternoon. But, it’s the right thing to do as part of your manager best practice, and it sends out a good message to those remaining in the office that you run your show in a professional manner.

5) Sometimes you strike gold
Okay, it’s a long short, but remember everyone has a reason for leaving. Emphasize the point that the exit interview is confidential, will be reported back officially to HR, and is a chance for them to help their fellow colleagues too. You may unearth a problem that you never knew about, and if not, it was right to ask.

Here are 10 questions you should ask at an exit interview.


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