How To Conduct An Exit Interview


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How To Conduct An Exit Interview

- Contributed By J Dawkins.

Exit interviews are critical to any organisation as they offer opportunity for the employee to discuss their reasons for leaving and enable the organisation to review and improve staff retention policies. This article provides some practical tips for conducting an exit interview.

How To Conduct An Exit Interview

Adopt a Structured Approach

Don't treat an exit interview in a casual manner or as a formality, ensure that it has a structure and purpose to it. Remember that the more you can find out about why an employee is leaving the more opportunity this gives you to make improvements to the organisation to prevent further resignations. Perhaps the most useful tool is an exit interview form which lists a series of questions you might want to ask. Take time to prepare your own exit interview form or download a template at a site such as this.

Ensure Appropriate Staff Conduct the Interview.

Ideally you should always use a neutral third party, perhaps a member of the human resources staff or a senior manager to conduct the exit interview. This needs to be someone who is unconnected or has had little day to day contact with the employee rather than a direct line manager, to encourage them to be as open as possible.


Getting the right environment is essential to an open and honest discussion. Aim to arrange the interview in a neutral office away from the employees day to day workplace. Ensure that the room is not too imposing or confrontational. This can be done by arranging seating in a circle rather than having the employee facing a panel of managers.

Remember if the employee has been particularly hardworking it is better to leave them with a positive picture of the organization and to leave the door open for them to return if it doesn't work out at their new place of work.

Guarantee Confidentiality

Whilst the employee may be leaving the organization, it is important to guarantee confidentiality of their exit interview discussion to encourage them to be as open as possible. Staff will soon learn not to reveal their real reasons for leaving If they hear about why other colleagues have left from gossiping exit interviewers.

Arrange Exit Interviews in the Final Week of Employment.

Timing is important for an exit interview to be effective. Don't rush to conduct the exit interview as soon as the employee resigns as they may not be as open about their real reasons for leaving if they know they still have four weeks of work remaining. They may fear that information could leek to colleagues about their reasons for leaving or that they will be treated harshly for the remainder of their time with the organization.

Don't Get Defensive

During the interview their will undoubtedly be things said by the employee about the organization or working practices that you don't like. Don't become defensive as this will simply lead to a confrontational situation. Remember you want the employee to be as honest as possible so listen carefully. You can always seek to verify information after the employee has left and the details they provide may prove beneficial to improving staff retention in the future.

Keep a Written Record

Having a written record of the exit interview is essential to enable you to act on concerns raised to reduce the chances of other staff leaving.


Remember that exit interviews are all about understanding why employees leave so that you can take actions to improve organizational practices.

- Article contributed by J Dawkins. Copyright. Reproduced with permission.

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ABOUT the Author

By J Dawkins. Having worked in the recruitment industry for over five years, I now write extensively on the subject of job search, interview tips, Resume and CV advice. Feel free to ask as many questions as you like and get it answered online. Visit my comprehensive blog dedicated to the Job Search process The Jobsearch Expert Blog

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