Questions to Ask on an Exit Interview

Gina Deveney
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Exit interviews are a valuable source of information for HR representatives and executives. Because they don't have to fear being terminated or retaliated against, departing employees are more likely to give honest answers when you ask them questions about employee relations, job expectations and other sticky subjects. If you want to use exit interviews effectively, make sure you ask these questions every time an employee leaves your company.

Ask employees if they would recommend your company to a friend in need of a job. This seems like a simple question, but the answers might surprise you. If an employee says he would not recommend your company, ask probing questions to find out why. You might find out that the employee is leaving because of a toxic manager or an unfair policy. It's too late to change things for the departing employee, but you can use the information from your exit interviews to improve the experiences of new hires.

Exit interviews aren't very useful if they don't help you uncover the real reasons why people are leaving your company. In some cases, you can use the information to improve morale, increase employee engagement and reduce turnover in the future. If an employee reveals she's leaving because there are no opportunities for career growth, you might need to revise the job descriptions in her department or look into offering additional training opportunities. If several departing employees report having problems with the same manager, you may need to change the way you assess managers or handle employee complaints.

Exit interviews can also help you uncover discrepancies between a written job description and the actual realities of a job. Make sure you ask all departing employees if their jobs actually matched their initial expectations. If an employee says she had to perform a lot of duties that weren't included in the job description, you need to edit the job description and make it as accurate as possible. If another employee says he feels his compensation package was not well-aligned with his actual job duties, have your compensation manager perform a job analysis and determine if the position should be in a different salary range.

Finally, exit interviews are ideal for finding out if you need to provide additional training or give employees access to better equipment. Ask all of your departing employees if they had the tools and resources they needed to do their jobs effectively. You might find out that you promoted someone without giving her the training she needed to excel, or that your employees had to bring in their own pencils or paper clips from home because the office manager didn't order enough.

If you are serious about improving employee relations, you need to talk to departing employees about the problems they faced at your company. Conducting exit interviews is a great way to find out if you have happy employees, or if your employees lack the resources and support they need to succeed in their jobs.

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