HR Glossary for HR Professionals

Glossary of the most common HR terms and acronyms to assist professionals navigating the ever-growing and ever-changing world of HR terminology.

Exit Interview

What is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview is a conversation conducted between an employer and an employee just before the employee leaves the organization. In these discussions, the two talk about the worker’s reasons for leaving and their overall experience while at the organization.

Why Are Exit Interviews Important?

Exit interviews are important opportunities to improve company culture, including improving work-life balance and employee engagement

As a result, by planning ahead with a strategy in mind, you can successfully conduct exit interviews to boost retention for new and current teammates.

How to Prepare for Exit Interviews

As with any task that a person undertakes in their role, planning ahead—and planning with a purpose—tends to yield better results than the alternative. Exit interviews are no different. 

Consider five key steps as you prepare your discussion:

  1. Schedule the meeting at an appropriate time: You want to make sure that you’ve waited a few days after the initial announcement, but not too long so that your teammate is checked out before their last day. 
  2. Plan questions in advance (but don’t limit yourself): It’s helpful and instructive to have a list of questions prepared beforehand, namely because the standardized process allows you to identify trends throughout all exit interviews. But, you should be open to letting the conversation flow naturally, as the employee may mention something that you’d never considered.
  3. Meet face-to-face (if possible): Conduct your exit interview in person and you allow for the meaningful person-to-person interactions that generally result in better conversations. (It’s also a professional gesture that will be appreciated.)
  4. Be open and easygoing: Open-ended discussions reduce the inherent awkwardness of an experience that can be uncomfortable for both participants. This combination of both formal and informal helps you identify frequently cited issues with culture or management and unexpected details that your questions may miss.
  5. Look for insights and improve your team’s processes accordingly: Don’t waste this opportunity! When conducted properly, an exit interview gives you the chance to improve your own company’s retention strategies.

Exit Interviews vs. Stay Interviews: What’s the Difference?

Employee retention is an ongoing process. Sometimes, it’s as or more beneficial to talk to current team members than ones who are leaving, as in the case of exit interviews. 

If you have time, try conducting stay interviews with your team to see what’s working and what isn’t. It shows that you care—and may allow you to improve employee engagement and turn new or current hires into forever hires.

Related Terms: Employee Retention

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