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An exit interview is a great opportunity to gain feedback on how to improve the company from a departing employee.

What’s the best way to effectively conduct an exit interview? Here are some tips.

Remember the goal

The goal of exit interviews is to find out employee perceptions of what your company does well and where it might need improvement. You need to focus on questions and methods of conducting the interview that will meet those goals.

For example, if a top performer is leaving, focus on any factors that would have made her stay. Were there salary or benefits concerns? If so, this can alert you to areas of your organization that might need a boost to remain competitive and help you retain top performers in the future.

Make the employee comfortable

Any data you receive from an exit interview is only going to be useful if it’s true. If an employee is not comfortable sharing the real answer, the exit interview process will be ineffective.

It’s important to ensure any information you receive from an employee will not be shared in a way that would make them uncomfortable or jeopardize their search for a new job.

One method is to aggregate data from exit interviews, so no information is about just one person. Once you have a plan for aggregating the answers, tell exit interviewees their responses are combined with others, and thus not directly traceable to them.

If you have a manager whose reports leave more frequently than others, exit interviews might alert you that the manager doesn’t train appropriately and micromanages. Aggregate data helps you to discover that pattern.

It also protects the employee from any negative consequences of sharing that information about the manager. Managers whose staff criticize them may be tempted to retaliate. Aggregating answers makes the exit interview information feel more neutral.

Focus on why they were looking, not on the exit

It’s important not to focus on the exit. Never make an employee feel guilty for leaving or inadequate in job performance.

Your exit interview questions should focus on what made good performers start looking in the first place.

The answers may be focused on salary or benefits. They might target a lack of promotional paths, or at least the perception of them. Morale might need boosting, if employees seem to feel underappreciated.

These answers should help you develop strategies to improve your organization in those areas and overall retention.

Do you need help recruiting top candidates? We can help.