(HR) departments typically conduct exit interviews to gather information from departing employees
to help the company improve working conditions,
retain existing employees and identify problem
areas within the organisation. One of the great
aspects of exit interviews is that the departing
employee often feels less concerned about the
ramifications of 'treading on toes' and hence
is typically willing to provide extremely open
and honest feedback about their experience at
In short, exit interviews
are an extremely important tactic for any organisation
serious about retaining their staff, raising the
skill levels of Management and improving the general
working conditions within the company.
However, whilst exit interviews clearly have
their place, there are many pitfalls to avoid. Some of the key challenges that
companies face in conducting exit interviews include:
Interviewer bias: The person charged with asking the questions may not be
100% impartial or may have negative preconceived notions about the departing employee.
Interpretation: Often, the departing employee says 'X', yet the interviewer
will write down 'Y'. They hear what they want to hear.
Data entry: Often the person responsible for interviewing the departing employee
is at Management level, and places a low priority on data entering the results
of the exit interview into a centralised system that authorised Managers can access.
Reporting: As notes are hand written, there is not one central place where
all exit interview data is stored. The data also needs to be held on secured servers
(as the information is often sensitive) and only people with appropriate privileges
able to access the results.
5. Consistency: Without
a standard exit interview form, the questions asked and information collected
can vary wildly.
6. Confronting: The departing
employee can sometimes feel as if it's too confronting to provide open and honest
feedback face-to-face - especially if the interviewer is personally known to the
7. Timing: If the departing employee
leaves the organisation suddenly, often the task of conducting the exit interview
is overlooked. However, the departing employee will still have valuable information
and feedback to contribute.
So, what can
be done to help minimise these pitfalls?
Enter the centralised
Exit Interview process.
Today many companies
are turning towards a centralised online exit interview
process. In simple terms, once an employee leaves
(or in the final weeks of their tenure) the following
1. HR is notified
of the departing employee's name / last day.
2. HR e-mail the departing
employee an online exit interview form, and ask that they complete it at a time
that suits them over the next 1-2 weeks. The survey form is pre-coded with the
employee's name, their Manager's name, and their location so that HR can easily
report and filter results by this information.
3. As soon as the survey
has been completed, HR is notified by e-mail, AND, the survey results are automatically
entered into an online database where reports can be run.
HR can then invite the Manager or the 'Next Up' Manager to review the feedback
and add any further comments.
5. HR then run date-defined reports to review
cumulative results, spot trends, and measure the change in ratings over time for
the whole company, or broken down by department or location.
we map this process against the traditional problem areas of exit interviews highlighted
above, we find it addresses many of the issues faced:
Interviewer bias: Problem Removed - the interview is in the form of an online
2. Interpretation errors: Problem Removed
- what the departing employee types is what HR report on.
Data entry: Problem Removed - the online survey stores the exact data and
ratings typed by the departing employee.
access: Problem Removed - anyone given authorisation can access the results
from any web browser in the World, at any time.
Consistency: Problem Removed - the exit interview form is the same for all
6. Confronting: Problem Removed - the departing
employee can complete the survey in their own time, at their own pace, without
feeling like they need to sugar coat the tone or nature of their comments.
Quick Departures: Problem Removed - if an employee departs suddenly, the survey
can still easily be sent and administered remotely in the days following the departure.
In short, a well constructed exit
interview process helps to improve employee retention
and reduce employee turnover, and should be a mandatory
consideration for any employer serious about improving
employee satisfaction levels.