Exit Interview Surveys 101


You are here: Home > Exit Interview Surveys 101

Article Overview:  

Exit Interview Surveys 101

Everything you need to know regarding the goals, structure and rationale behind conducting staff exit interview surveys.

A great starting point for any HR Executive or business owner ...

Exit Interview Theory - image

Increasing Employee Retention Through Employee Exit Interviews

Employee exit interviews are an important part of HR management and monitoring employee retention and satisfaction. Just as it is important to hold a sales interview to find out why you did not get an account, it is important to understand why an employee leaves and what information you can use to avoid future employee losses.

Avoidable losses result from employee job dissatisfaction, poor management practices, the lack of advancement opportunity, and sometimes personal harassment by or conflict with a co-worker or manager. A recent employee retention survey suggests that nearly 70% of employees leave their jobs because they do not feel valued!

Another purpose is to help employers avoid litigation down the road, caused by illegal activities or by "disgruntled" employees.

Employee exit interviews can change the climate of the organization by changing management style, making changes that reflect employee opinions, and creating value recognition programs where needed. One key to increasing the employee’s opinion of the organization is in the management of expectations. Realistic job expectations are important and management should focus on creation of proper expectations.

Employee exit interviews provide a window to view and benchmark employee expectations regarding:

· Job responsibilities and performance
· Employee job orientation and training
· Mentoring programs
· Working conditions
· Opportunities for skill development career advancement
· Training and development programs
· Supervision and Management
· Work Satisfaction
· Workload Distribution and Schedule Flexibility
· Salary
· Benefits
· Organizational Culture
· Organizational and Work Group Communication

Employee exit interviews should focus on retention by identifying the reason the employee is leaving and also determine if the company’s level of performance or the employees’ unfulfilled expectations are at issue. Just as consumer retention views fulfillment from products or services as “delightful” or as a “failure”, employment environments similarly delight or fail.

Failing environments with low levels of employee retention reflect low levels of job satisfaction and come at a great cost to the organization. Not only is it expensive to hire and then train new employees, but can have a negative impact on productivity and morale.

Goals for Exit Interviews

Employee exit interviews can result in measurable retention and performance increases for the employees and for the business in general. Specifically, effective employee exit interviews are an opportunity to diagnose and improve performance within the company:

  • Improve employee retention and reduce turnover.
  • Increase company objectivity by having employee exit interviews handled by a fair and non-partisan third-party.
  • Benchmark against industry and company norms for the exit interview survey items.
  • Compare exit interview scores against overall the Employee Satisfaction Tracking Survey to determine if employee satisfaction impacts turnover.
  • Track trends in employee exit interview satisfaction to measure improvements made.

Structure of Exit Interviews

Exit interviews are generally completed by about 1/3 of employees who leave an organization. Because this is a small percent of actual employees, this number should be doubled through multi-mode approaches: paper and pencil, online and telephone interviews. Online interviews are particularly valuable because respondents tend to be frank in their evaluations and will provide anecdotal experiences related to their previous employment.

Increasing Response Rates for Employee Exit Interviews

Employees who leave your organization are generally willing to provide feedback. However, where termination is due to employee deficiency or cutbacks, the employee may fear, be dismayed, or even be angry at the company. To obtain useful information in this type of situation requires special care. It is useful to identify why employees sometimes choose not to participate or complete exit interviews.

  • Face to face exit interviews are uncomfortable for the employee.
  • Psychologically the person may not want to participate… they may be in denial or want to leave this chapter in their lives behind.
  • The exit interview may be too long, detailed or contains requests for unimportant information.
  • The exit interview questions may be confusing or personally invasive.
  • Employees don’t believe that the company will value the exit interview information provided.
  • Employees are afraid of repercussions from information provided or statements made.
  • Employees are angry with the company, the employment situation, management or co-workers.
  • Employees forget to complete the interview or lose the interview form.

Given a 5-10 minute time window and that about 7 multiple choice questions can be answered per minute, 35-50 questions is the maximum. Text input questions take longer and will decrease the number of multiple choice questions (trade 1 text question for 3-5 multiple choice questions).

For all of the reasons discussed above, keep employee exit interview questions simple and short, focusing on evaluations of different job components (effectiveness of) and identification of needed changes. Questions about feelings and emotions are particularly difficult, especially if the employee has been terminated from the job.

Including Former Employees in the Exit Interview Feedback Loop

Angry employees who are angry or feel they have been treated unfairly have the greatest potential to damage the company. However, these same employees also place great value on the opportunity to have their say and provide feedback to someone who might listen to their side of the story.

Tell employees leaving the company that their feedback will be evaluated by the director of HR and that their comments and evaluations are important. If the employee makes suggestions, it is appropriate to send a letter thanking them for their honesty and to report on the value and implementations that are to be made based on their recommendations. No doubt, the employee still has friends at the company who may learn of the communication and the value the company places on suggestions for improving the workplace.

Build Your Exit Interview Process to Increase Response Rates

The employee exit interview process within your organization can be structured to maximize the quantity (response rates) and quality of feedback. Begin with an audit of your exit interview process to determine how employee exit interviews are conducted.

  • How is HR notified that an employee exit interview needs to take place?
  • How soon after the notice is received does the interview need to take place?
  • Who is responsible for initiating and conducting the exit interview?
  • How is the employee notified of the exit interview?
  • When does the employee receive notification of the need for an exit interview?
  • What is the employee told about the exit interview?
  • Is the interview process unbiased and free of repercussions?
  • What encouragements are used to secure employee cooperation for the exit interview?
  • When and where will the employee complete the exit interview?
  • Is there easy access the exit interview materials?
  • Does the employee have privacy when completing the exit interview?
  • Does the employee have the choice of completing the interview at work or at home?
  • Is the exit interview easy to complete?
  • Are supervisors and managers supportive of the exit interview process?
  • Are supervisors and managers fearful about receiving negative feedback from employees?
  • Is it easy for employees to submit their exit interviews?

Post Employee Exit Interview Followup: Job Comparison Questionnaire

Approximately three months after the completion of the employee exit interview survey, consider sending a “Job Comparison Questionnaire” that contains questions related to current employment status, and asks for a comparison of their new and previous job with your organization.

Source: Surveyz.com

Trial an Australian-built exit interview survey tool:

PeoplePulse is an Australian built online feedback and survey tool used extensively by Australian and New Zealand based organisations to discover the real drivers and motivations of your workforce. The tool can also be used by HR to conduct cost effective exit interview surveys, staff climate surveys, training needs analysis surveys, and 'new starter' feedback surveys to name a few popular uses.

Please complete the form below to arrange your FREE custom-branded exit interview demonstration and a PeoplePulse pricing and information sheet.

Upon completing the form below, a PeoplePulse representative will contact you to discuss your needs and current situation. From there we will set up your demo and arrange a suitable time to show the system to you:


Please be assured that your correspondence with us is confidential. We will not divulge email addresses or any other details you provide to outside sources.

The above demonstration request form was powered by PeoplePulse.


© 2007-13 - ExitInterviews.com.au