The Complete Guide to the Exit Interview Process

• Employee Offboarding

Employee offboarding is a tricky procedure. When an employee leaves an organization, it is critical to ensure that everything is done correctly and the relationship ends smoothly, but close-outs can be a vulnerable time for all parties involved. There are so many details involved and missing out on a critical step can lead to long-time repercussions.  

When handled right, the exit interview process is a golden opportunity that can reveal why your employee turnover is swelling at an alarming rate. However, most businesses consider unearthing these treasures as a pointless endeavor that gives out vague insights. Due to mounting pressures from other aspects of their work, the HR team often rushes through the exit interview process.

Before we delve deeper into this subject, let’s take a minute to understand problems with the common exit interview process and understand how to improve it. 

Problems with common exit interview processes

Rather than disregarding exit interviews as a lost cause, businesses need to spot problems in their current employee feedback processes and identify ways to derive results from them. 

Listed below are some common issues that reduce the efficiency of an exit interview process.

  1. Usage of impersonal tools like questionnaire booklet and telephonic interviews 
  2. Creating data silos by collecting and storing data in multiple interfaces
  3. Complications in compiling, tracking, and analyzing disparate employee feedback
  4. Raising questions that cannot evaluate the quality of work-life within the organization
  5. Disinterest in spending resources to optimize and improve the exit interview process
  6. Failure to provide a trusted environment where employees share their opinions candidly 

How to plan an effective employee exit interview

After identifying problems in the current exit interview process, businesses need to reinvent their exit interview process to ensure that they get good quality, well thought-out feedback. 

Listed below are six great practices that businesses can embrace to make their exit interviews more effective:

1. Organize exit interviews face to face

Face-to-face interactions are central to an effective exit interview process since they better scope for communication, understanding, and interpretation. These also offer far better opportunities to probe and find the roots of sensitive and reluctant feelings. 

Challenges

  • Making reserved employees feel comfortable enough to share opinions honestly 
  • Finding a neutral place to hold the interview as office spaces might be intimidating and counter-productive to what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Listening without taking on a defensive stance due to own perceptions

2. Allow an effective two-way conversation

Feedback is a two-way street. To make employees offer genuine, constructive feedback employers need to give employees time and space to interpret, reflect, understand, and answer questions honestly. 

The best way to establish a constructive dialogue is by remembering that the aim of this process is to elicit views, feedback, and answers. The process should totally avoid lecturing or admonishing interviewees. They’re leaving. The only productive thing your business will gain from them are reasons why they’re doing so. These reasons will benefit your business if they’re genuine and won’t affect you in the contrary.

Challenges

  • Coaxing and reassuring employees to answer questions as opposed to pressurizing them
  • Not offering employees the opportunity to respond and express their own concerns

3. Encourage honesty by ensuring confidentiality

Ensuring opinions shared during the exit interview process will stay confidential can offer individuals some much needed closure and prove to be the exact vehicle of transition they need to move forward with their careers. 

Challenges

  • Reassuring people who are nervous about saying too much and burning bridges
  • Obscuring the source of information that is specific to a particular role 
  • In organizations with low turnover the source of intelligence becomes obvious

4. Ask appropriate and useful questions

The right questions can unlock powerful insights that employers wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Asking open ended questions ‘what/why/how’ can help employers probe deeper especially if the first answer is vague or superficial. It is better to stay clear of close ended, ‘yes/no’ questions unless there is a need to confirm a specific point.

Challenges

  • Compiling an exit interview questionnaire into a format which can be analyzed numerically
  • Identifying and asking questions that are most suited for specific situations

5. Don’t just document feedback, analyze it 

Honest opinions of departing employees can offer incredible insights into existing organizational culture, dysfunctions, and untapped opportunities for improvement. While the process of collecting feedback is important, without tracking answers and identifying long term trends there is no way to correct repetitive mistakes. 

Challenges

  • Isolated sources of data don’t give a comprehensive picture of employee feedback
  • Failing to share consolidated data regularly with senior decision makers

6. Solve recurring issues with a rock-solid retention plan

In most organizations, HR teams are responsible for collecting exit interview results, analyzing and reporting findings, and taking appropriate remedial actions. Results acquired from such exit interview feedback analysis can be split into two common categories such as 

  1. Remedial and preventive measures in the case of health and safety issues, employment law and liability, harrassment and discrimination, and more. 
  2. Strategic improvement recommendations for process improvement, supervisory training, team building initiatives, and more. 

Challenges

  • Hesitancy to act against harassment complaints since there is no evidence
  • Failure to conduct effective investigations to identify the truth behind informal comments

With the help of exit interview best practices outlined above you can garner honest feedback that will form the cornerstone of the ideal exit interview process.

Valuable insights that make exit interviews count

Businesses can uncover real-time retention problems and get an accurate view of work-life within an organization from exit interview insights. These insights:

  • Discover flaws in current management policies
  • Reveal patterns in employee resignations
  • Highlight opportunities available for employee development
  • Offer employees the opportunity to share constructive criticism
  • Provide insights to improve your recruiting, onboarding, and employee training process
  • Detect opportunities for improvement in your organization’s culture.

Level up your exit interview process 

When employees don’t rely on your organization for their livelihood, they’re more likely to provide honest and constructive feedback. Not everyone will speak forthrightly about an organization and its culture, but your best bet is usually with a worker who won’t face any consequences for sharing his/her honest opinion.

In order to uncover valuable information through your exit interviews, you need to focus on two crucial factors: getting genuine answers to your questions and aggregating the data in an easy-to-interpret way. With exit interviews, businesses can unlock the reason behind unwanted attrition and identify troubles that prompt top performers to quit. 

If your exit interviews are not as smooth as you want them to be, see how digitizing them can help in simplifying your employee offboarding process.