If you have lost a few top performers to a competitor, exit interviews can help you to learn why this is happening. Or maybe you had to let go of a few people you were sure would be your next superstars. In this article, we’ll tell you how exit interviews can help you improve the way you hire and who you hire. We’ll cover the following:
- Free Exit Interview Template
- What is an Exit Interview, and Why Should You Do It?
- What to Ask at Exit Interviews? Top 15 Exit Interview Questions
- What Employees Should Have Exit Interviews? (Fired vs. Quit)
- How To Conduct an Exit Interview from Start to Finish
Free Exit Interview Template
Below is an exit interview template. Feel free to customize it to your company! You could use this template while doing an exit interview verbally, by email, or by phone.
Name ____________________________ Start Date_________________________
Department _______________________ Leaving Date ______________________
Position ___________________________ Manager _________________________
What prompted you to seek new employment? (Check as many as needed)
[ ] Compensation
[ ] Lack of Recognition
[ ] Company Culture
[ ] Business Direction
[ ] Work Conditions
[ ] Family Circumstances
[ ] New Job Opportunity
[ ] Other: ______________________
Before making your decision to leave, did you discuss your above issues with management?
[ ] Yes [ ] No
What did you think of your supervisor? Please provide professional, critical feedback.
How would you describe the culture and morale at the company as a whole?
Was your workload usually:
[ ] Too great
[ ] Varied, but all right
[ ] About right
[ ] Too light
How did you feel about your salary and the employee benefits?
What did you like most about your job and/or this company?
What did you like least about your job and/or this company?
What does your new job offer that your job with this company does not?
Why is the new job/company better?
Thank you for your time in taking this survey. We wish you the best of luck on your new path.
What is an Exit Interview, and Why Should You Do It?
An exit interview is an interview or survey that’s given to employees leaving a company. It is a session where an employer asks a departing employee about their time at the company, what they did and didn’t like while doing the job, and why the employee is going to a new position. It can be conducted verbally, in writing, or even as a computer-based survey via a program like SurveyMonkey.
Whatever form it takes, however, an exit interview must be voluntary. Thanks to at will employment, employees who decide to leave your company do not have to have contact with you again and do not have to participate in an exit interview.
How Can Exit Interviews Benefit Your Business?
Exit interviews can have a number of benefits for your company and can really help you to make progress with your talent and company culture.
The main 5 benefits of exit interviews are:
- Improving your the recruitment process – What you learn from an exit interview can help you to change how you recruit, ranging from what questions you ask candidates to deciding on what personality works best at your organization.
- Reducing employee turnover – Simply put, once you learn why people are leaving, you can change things for the better and better retain talent.
- Raising company performance – An exit interview can shed light on why performance is low, why a product is hard to sell, or other flaws in the business, giving you opportunities to adjust your business and increase employees’ performance.
- Increasing engagement of current employees – Doing exit interviews and then taking action on what you learn shows your employees that you care about them, which makes them care more about their work.
- Reducing litigation issues – Doing exit interviews may give you insight into issues you didn’t know existed, be it a volatile manager or something even darker. Doing exit interviews can help safeguard yourself from a potential lawsuit. For example, if you own a restaurant, you might find out that the reason people are leaving is because your General Manager curses at them or is rude to them – this is a behavior that you need to fix before your business gets in trouble for harassment.
What to Ask at Exit Interviews & Top 15 Exit Interview Questions
Below is a short list of suggestions you can use as a springboard for building your own exit interview. Many questions are relevant to all businesses in all industries, no matter what size or the role the person was in. You will want to, just like when you are interviewing a new hire, pick questions that get you to what you want to know–why the person is leaving and what you can do to improve your business and employee base.
Also, don’t be afraid to get specific if you need to when making your question list. For example, if you have a hunch people might be leaving because you don’t pay as much as a competitor, ask that question!
- What is your main reason for leaving?
- What are the other reasons for your leaving?
- What has been the best part for you in your time with our company?
- What has been your least favorite part during your time with our company?
- What made you start looking for another job in the first place? Was it a specific event or a gradual change?
- What message would you give to management upon your departure?
- If a friend asked you, would you recommend that they take a job here?
- If you could change anything about how the company operates, what would it be?
- What did you think of your compensation here? Did you find we were out of line of what you were able to get in the market? By how much?
- Did you ever bring up your grievances with management prior to looking for a new job? What happened?
- What did you think of our benefits package here? Was this a major factor in your decision to leave? What should our benefits package be?
- What did you think of our performance review process? Was this a motivating factor for you to leave (either because of a lack thereof or not done correctly)?
- Did your manager directly contribute to your leaving? If so, will you share any constructive feedback for your manager with us.
- Did a conflict on your team or your teammates contribute to your leaving? If so, can you share any feedback with us for how to improve the team dynamics.
- What do you think is the state of the company morale in general here? What would be the number one thing we could do for our people?
Which Employees Should Have Exit Interviews? (Fired vs Quit)
You might be wondering if every employee who leaves your organization should get an exit interview, especially those who were fired versus those who leave on their own accord for another job or another reason.
Employees Who Quit
Employees who quit voluntarily should definitely get an exit interview. They are an easy source of data for learning why talent is leaving your company and can give you valuable insight into how to improve your company process, your team, and even increase your business performance.
Employees Who Are Fired
Employees who are fired (or laid off) might be a bit more of a grey area. Having a face-to-face exit interview or even a telephone call can be incredibly awkward, as well as cause a flare up of anger. If you feel that the situation and maturity of the person still warrant a face-to-face or telephone exit interview, remember to be professional and to simply hang up or leave if the situation turns for the worse.
There are also a few other options in lieu of a verbal exit interview:
- Do it online – Provide a form by email or by a survey service and email it to the former employee to avoid an awkward, or even volatile, encounter
- Hire an outside service – Hire a consultant or another outside person to hold the exit interview for you, which also will increase the odds that the person will speak to them
If an employee is leaving on particularly bad terms (i.e. you caught them stealing, you found them doing drugs), having an exit interview is not necessary.
How To Conduct an Exit Interview from Start to Finish
So you want to do an exit interview, great! Here we will walk you through how to conduct one from start to finish, as well as what the final goal of the exit interview should be.
Step 1: Decide on the format for the interview
You have three main options for format:
- In-person – In-person has the benefit of being genuine and getting the most detailed information, but it also is the most awkward if the person was fired. You know yourself best – is in person a good option for you as well to stay professional and get the most information from the employee? If the person is leaving voluntarily, this is the recommended format when possible.
- Telephone – Telephone will help you to avoid an awkward encounter, but you will probably not get as much valuable information back as an in-person. Try to book the person for more time than you need, say 30 minutes, so that if some good follow up dialogue might happen, they don’t have to jet off the phone.
- Online/email – This is a toss up – millennials and other people now feel comfortable writing things online that they would never say aloud. However, it’s also easy for them to just ignore the request. This is the least risky way to hold the interview though!
Step 2: Decide when is the appropriate time for the exit interview
If someone is voluntarily leaving, some time on their last day or the day before that is fine.
If someone is being fired or laid off, you will want to wait about 1 week before sending them an exit interview. If you send it too soon, you either will not get a response, or you will most likely get a non-constructive one since the person will probably be angry.
Step 3: Determine the questions you want to ask
You’ll want the interview to be 20 minutes at most, so keep that in mind when you are creating the questions. See our top exit interview questions list above for ideas.
Step 4: Conduct the interview
- If you’re emailing it, that’s easy – just go ahead and send!
- If you are having a telephone call, you’ll want to set up a time where you can close the door and really focus on what the person is saying.
- If you are having an in-person, you’ll want to set up a neutral location like a coffee shop to have the interview or a private office on site where the walls are not paper thin. Stick to the questions, take notes, and end the meeting in a professional way.
Step 5: What is the goal of the exit interview information? What are you going to do with the information?
Make the changes that need making – perhaps you have a company-wide issue you just found out about through the exit interview. Bite the bullet, and start the dialogue with the current team on how to solve it before you lose someone else.
However, before making big changes, observe – look around and see if the person’s feedback holds water or not. There is a chance they viewed things from a skewed lens, especially if they were terminated or let go, but you will want to check on things and be aware.
The Bottom Line
Exit interviews can give you that solid look in the mirror your business needs. Losing talent is one of the top issues for all businesses, whether you are in the Fortune 100 or have 3 people on staff. Preventing any loss of talent, and improving what you already have, with exit interview information can be a critical money and time saver for your small business. And don’t forget to check out Gusto, our recommended payroll provider for small business.