Benefits of exit interviews

September 2012

Exit interview benefits

What is an exit interview?

An exit interview is a survey conducted with an employee who is leaving an organisation. The interview may be conducted by a person from within the organisation or with a third party provider to ensure confidentiality and encourage honest feedback.

An exit interview is a tool that assesses:

  • What drives an individual to leave an organisation
  • The aspects the employee valued
  • What the individual thinks needs to improve in order to increase employee engagement, performance, and loyalty.

Results of exit interviews can help improve your organisation

Exit interviews can also be used to find out if an employee is moving to another employer which can enable organisations to amend their HR strategy to target, attract and retain top talent. Employers use the information gained from exit interviews to save money by assessing what should be improved, changed, or remain intact at both organisation-wide or departmental levels.

An organisation can use the results from exit interviews to reduce costly turnover and increase staff productivity and employee engagement.

An exit interview is conducted in the separation stage of the employee life cycle (ELC). This stage, the final of the ELC, spans from when an employee becomes disengaged until the day of their departure. Administration of the exit interview during this time is key as feelings are top-of-mind. A leaving process allows the employer and employee to properly close the relationship so that:

  • organisation materials are collected
  • administrative processes are fulfilled
  • knowledge transfer and handover takes place
  • feedback and insights are gathered through exit interviews
  • other loose ends are tied

Traditionally this "separation" was a time consuming process but automated exit interviews are quick, simple to administer, do not require both respondents to be in the same place at the same time and allow an HR representative to simultaneously reach multiple, geographically dispersed employees.

Historically little was done with exit interview data. However there are now metrics, benchmarks and best practices that help organisations interpret and use the data towards proactive organisational retention programs. Web-based exit interview systems facilitate and streamline the employee separation process, making separation and retention trends easy to identify. Collecting actionable data can increase organisational effectiveness contributing to high performing organisations. Furthermore, they can enable an organisation to investigate changes in trends over time allowing assessment of HR strategies.

Common exit interview themes

Exit interview questions may cover the following:

  • Job satisfaction
  • Reasons for leaving
  • Frustrations
  • Efficacy of organisation policies or procedures.
  • The work environment
  • The work itself
  • The organisation culture
  • Supervisors and team members
  • Compensation and benefits packages

In summary, benefits of conducting exit interviews are huge, they include:

  • shortening and improving effectiveness of the recruitment process
  • reducing employee absenteeism
  • sustaining or raising organisational performance through potential
  • increase employee engagement and alignment, and 
  • reducing possible litigation issues.

Other exit interview resources and articles: