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5 tips for your next exit interview

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Employee turnover is a normal part of business. Understanding the motivations behind staff departures can drive positive organizational change, shape future retention strategies, and improve employee satisfaction.

An exit interview is a great way to gather feedback. Without proper insights, you could make the same mistakes when rehiring and find yourself in perpetual recruitment mode.

Here are 5 ways to maximize the value of an exit interview:

1. Ask the right questions

This might sound obvious. But too often exit interviews are full of broad questions that fail to generate meaningful insights. Some people will feel comfortable sharing an answer to a question like “why are you leaving?”, while others will feel hesitant to be direct. They don’t want to burn bridges. Asking more specific questions can draw out more helpful and detailed responses. Some examples of helpful questions include:

  • When were you the happiest in your role?
  • What did you like least about your role?
  • What was your relationship like with your supervisor?
  • What led to you searching for a new job?
  • Is there anything about our workplace culture that you would change?

Don’t forget to probe for more detailed information after receiving an initial answer to a question: “tell me more” or “can you give me an example?”.

2. Don’t make assumptions

It’s easy to assume that an employee is leaving because they had conflict with a manager or were unhappy with their salary – but sometimes it is as simple as the new job offers remote work or is closer to home. The new organization may have done a better job of understanding the employee’s priority needs.

Even if you think you know why someone is leaving, it’s important to hold an exit interview and remain open to the answers.

3. Talk about leadership

Leadership is one of the main reasons staff leave. Therefore, it’s important to address this and ask directly: “How do you perceive your supervisor’s management style?” or “What level of trust did you have in the company’s leadership?”.

An exit interview should not be conducted by a direct supervisor, but by another senior leader. Leaders one-step-removed from the employee tend to receive more honest answers.

4. Be genuinely open to feedback

Receiving negative feedback can be challenging. It’s important that you remain professional and undefensive. Keep in mind that this leaving employee may one day return or refer other people to your organization, so ending on a positive note is crucial.

Also remember that this feedback can genuinely help your company. While it might be hard to hear criticism, it can give you the opportunity to grow and prevent future staff from leaving.

5. Make it count

There’s no point doing exit interviews if the feedback isn’t going to be put into practice. The information gained from these conversations can become the center of your retention strategy. It can reveal what matters most to your employees, where you are failing to understand their drivers, and what you can change or improve.

Determine a list of set questions that is asked in every exit interview, so that the data can be compared and analyzed in an effort to find consistent areas for improvement.

Exit interviews are a way to improve employee experience and drive organizational change. It is about creating a workplace that not only attracts but retains top talent. The effectiveness of this lies in the ability to gather the right information and following these 5 tips will allow you to unlock valuable insights.

Book a discovery session and let us help you secure world class talent for your organization’s success.

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