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Exit interviews, what’s the point?

Posted about 5 years ago by Rebecca Thomas
exit sign

So, a team member has handed their notice in. We all know what a pain it can be when someone leaves and you have to pick up the slack until you can find a replacement. The race is on to find the best candidate in a small pool of talent so you can get your team back to normality as quickly as possible.

As a result, the leaver’s exit interview is very often, the bottom of your list of priorities; it might not even be on there at all. So why should you bump it up your to-do list?
Exit interviews are a valuable way to gather information from an employee who is often more likely to be open and candid about their experience in your business and/or team. This could be extremely helpful for your replacement hire, business culture, process and more. In a candidate-led market, retention of talent is as important as attracting it.
But, what should you ask in an exit interview? Here are a few questions that should (hopefully) ensure the exercise is as valuable and engaging as possible: 

1. Why did you choose to join us in the first place?
2. What was the main reason that you decided to look for a new role?
3. What could we have done to prevent you from getting to the point of looking for a new role?
4. What was the biggest challenge in your role here?
5. Are there any changes you would make to the responsibility of the role (job description)?
6. In your time here what skills/experiences have you gained that you believe will help you in your next role? Is there anything missing?
 7. What advice would you give us moving forward?
8. Did you feel adequately rewarded for your hard work?
9. Would you ever consider coming back to work here?
10. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

As a business owner and manager, myself, it can be difficult to listen to people reasons behind leaving. I always want to retain talent and encourage development, but we don’t always get it right. These questions aim to gather not only information about why people leave but what you might have missed during their employment too. 

Of course, there are times where you might not gather anything from it or you lose someone through no fault of your own. However, if what they state as their biggest challenge or reason for leaving is something you feel you could fundamentally improve, this will ensure a much smoother journey for the next person in that seat. It also encourages you to think back to what commitments you made to that person when they joined and if you delivered on them. And if you didn’t, why not?

Creating this platform for an ex-employee might initially feel uncomfortable but it’s actually a refreshing experience and allows you to make positive changes and learn from someone who has lived in that role.