An exit interview performs two purposes in an organization; it can be a useful way to gather information from departing employees and it will help ensure that employees surrender company equipment. To be certain, some exiting employees will rush through the interview, eager to move on to their new jobs and reluctant to burn bridges with a former employer. Others, however, will provide candid feedback that an employer can use to attract new talent and retain valued workers.
Like any checklist, an exit interview checklist helps a manager remember to cover key topics, such as returning property that belongs to the employer. Company policy should dictate that a manager use a checklist to confirm that a departing employee has returned items such as an employee's identification badge, laptop, cell phone, smart phone, company credit card, sales samples, files and any other portable physical items that the employee routinely used off the company premises.
Exit interview questions should be open-ended to encourage honest feedback in the employee's own words. Many companies send a list of interview questions in written form to the employee a few days in advance of her departure date, requesting that she complete the form and bring it to the exit meeting to facilitate the interview process. Sample questions may ask what the employee's goals and expectations were when she joined the company and whether her employment achieved those expectations; what aspects of the job the employee found most satisfying; what changes the employer could have made that would have made the employee stay on the job; what employee benefits the employee found most valuable or why the employee decided to leave.
Some companies conduct the exit interview electronically in a survey format. The electronic interview is useful for gathering information in instances where employees work from home or from remote or international locations. An electronic interview may also be useful where an employee gave insufficient notice to conduct the exit interview in person or declined to participate in a face-to-face exit interview.
Human resources professionals should organize and analyze information collected during exit interviews. The HR department may recommend changes in company practices or benefits that could increase the employee retention rate. Trends in the data may expose development opportunities for managers or strengths in the organization that senior management should know about. The extent to which HR reports results depends on the size of the organization and its structure. In any event, HR should maintain completed exit interviews so that interview results are searchable and accessible.
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