Exit Interview

What Is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview is a discussion that allows a departing employee and their organization to exchange information, usually on that employee’s last day of work. Typically the exit interview is an opportunity for the employee to explain their reasons for leaving and provide feedback about their experience working for the organization.

This exchange could happen in a face-to-face interview between the employee and a manager or HR, or it could simply be a survey which the employee fills out and turns in. For the most effective communication, we recommend the first option.

Note: An exit interview is not required by law and some employers choose not to conduct them. An employer can’t require an exiting employee to complete an exit interview unless they signed an employment contract that specifically states otherwise.

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Benefits of Effective Exit Interviews

When done well, exit interviews can be a great tool for organizations to collect open and honest feedback that will ultimately help improve their employees’ experience moving forward.

Other benefits of an effective employee exit interview include:

When Should Exit Interviews Be Conducted?

An exit interview should be scheduled a week in advance and conducted on the last day of employment.

When scheduling, it can be helpful to include a survey or list of questions that will be asked during the interview. This gives the employee a chance to gather their thoughts, prepare what they want to say and feel more comfortable speaking up. Plus, it provides the interviewer with a preview of the employee’s feedback so the conversation can be better guided and more productive.

Unfortunately, several things can be revealed in interviews that, if known earlier, could have been addressed and resolved well before the employee decided to leave. Having open and regular communication between the employee and HR throughout employment is critical for retainment.

How to Conduct an Effective Exit Interview

To make the most of an exit interview, you need to establish the right expectations, keep an open mind and be prepared. Each interview will be different because each employee leaves for their own reasons and under their own circumstances, but you should try to apply the same practices and principles to each one.

Try some of these exit interview tips for the best results:

What Questions Should I Ask In an Exit Interview?

There are a great number of exit interview questions you could ask, but it's best to narrow them down by choosing those that will help HR improve the work environment and retain employees. Also, asking for specific examples in feedback can be very helpful to other employees and the company as a whole.

We recommend HR professionals choose no more than 10 of the following questions to maintain the right focus :

What Does HR Do With Exit Interviews?

Retention strategy is one of the main focuses of HR—the most pressing reason being that losing an employee is incredibly expensive for a business. It’s nearly 33 percent of an employee’s annual salary (and possibly much higher).

Through exit interviews, Human Resources can lower employee turnover and its associated costs. They can do this by using the feedback gathered in the interview to learn from a leaving employee’s experiences.

HR carefully reviews every bit of information shared and uses it to improve current and future employee experiences. They first redact all personal data and then perform a quarterly or annual analysis to find trends (e.g., if a certain company policy negatively impacted a group of employees or a lack of trust in a certain manager).

Some revelations require HR to pursue internal investigations or report a potential crime to law enforcement.

Always say goodbye on good terms.

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