"Why Are You Leaving?"
Exit Interview Whys and Hows

It stings when a great employee gives notice. Here's how to learn from the experience - and what you need to ask - to prevent voluntary turnover.

Exit Interviews Prevent Turnover

An exit interview formalizes the resignation process by inviting the worker to a one-on-one interview with HR. These structured sessions are an important, but sometimes overlooked, part of the employee journey.

An exit interview is the last important conversation you will have with an employee before they move on. It's a tool that provides important insights into why the worker is leaving your company. Exit interviews allow HR teams to learn the good, bad and ugly about what workers experience on the job each day. Hopefully, they can use that knowledge to improve the workplace environment and retain remaining members of the team longer.

Exit interviews can also help repair any real or perceived damage that caused the employee to leave. Allowing an exiting employee the opportunity to share constructive feedback on what motivated them to take another job is one way to rebuild a tarnished image of your company. This can help with recruiting, as well as preventing legal issues in the long run.

Tips for Conducting an Effective Exit Interview

Conduct exit interviews with anyone who leaves, regardless of the terms of their separation. These interviews should always be in person, although that may not always be possible.

Try to conduct the interview privately in a comfortable one-on-one setting. Avoid a public setting or an interview with a panel of people, which could intimidate the employee and cause them to be less than candid during the discussion.

Your goal should be to set the stage for an open, candid conversation. Before starting, explain the purpose of the exit interview and that your goal is to learn and improve the organization for everyone's benefit.

Consistency is important during these interviews. Establish a set of documented interview questions. Some examples to consider include:

  • What did you like the best about your job here?
  • What did you dislike?
  • Can you describe the relationship you had with your manager?
  • How did you get along with your co-workers?
  • Do you believe the pay and benefits were competitive?
  • Did you have the tools you needed to do your job?
  • Can you share why you considered another job offer?
  • What could we have done to keep you here?
  • What qualities do you think we should look for in your replacement?
  • Do you have any other advice to share with us?

At the end of the interview, thank the former employee, and document your findings in a summary. This information is very valuable and the data could be used to change policies or provide additional training that will ultimately help you keep your top employees.

Why Wait Till They Leave? The Stay Interview

No one likes a nasty surprise, so when a good employee leaves it's normal to wonder what went wrong. While the exit interview can give you data to help change the organization, there's a tool you can use before the employee grows so frustrated they throw in the towel.

More HR teams are incorporating the stay interview as a proactive method of capturing employee feedback during their tenure with an organization. Stay interviews seek input on why employees stay versus why they're leaving. Once the exit interview occurs, it's too late to salvage the relationship enough to keep the employee on board. But the stay interview can help companies improve now by seeking worker input on what's going well and what could be improved in their daily experience.

The stay interview is a fantastic tool to build employee morale. It lets your workers know you care about what they have to say - which can improve both employee engagement and long-term retention. And while employee satisfaction tools can also help in these areas, assessments are typically conducted online. A stay interview, like an exit interview, is one-on-one in real time.

The questions in a stay interview are similar to an exit interview. For example:

  • What do you like the best about your job here?
  • What do you dislike?
  • Can you describe the relationship you have with your manager?
  • Are you getting along with your coworkers?
  • Do you believe the pay and benefits are competitive?
  • Did you have the tools you need to do your job?

But these questions are all present tense, so you can use the data to change the workplace now, and in ways that will ultimately keep your best workers on the job.

Can a Staffing Partner Help?

Turnover happens. If your organization is losing too many good employees, however, a staffing partnership can be extremely beneficial.

Staffing firms can help you:

  • improve time to hire, even in the most competitive markets
  • staff high turnover positions more effectively
  • reduce overwork, burnout and other contributors to turnover
  • refer candidates who are a great skills and cultural fit - so they stay longer and perform well
  • lighten the load of an overburdened HR team

To learn more, give your staffing partner a call.