The Ultimate Exit Interview


By Phil Harwood 

Employers have always been faced with the difficulty of understanding why a person would leave their company, especially if there was no opportunity to learn what went wrong, if anything. However, with today’s labor shortage, it is essential to understand why an ex-employee decided to leave the company so steps can be taken to reduce attrition. But the difficulty of conducting exit interviews persists. Now what?

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This is where the ultimate exit interview comes into play. The ultimate exit interview is always accurate, fully transparent, and will never be questioned. This is because the ultimate exit interview is conducted on oneself. Instead of asking another person why they left their employer, the ultimate exit interview poses the question, “Why did I leave my previous employer?”
One of the knocks against exit interviews is that the information gleaned is not entirely accurate. Ex-employees may see the exit interview as an opportunity to simply air their grievances, or answers may be less than forthcoming because the ex-employee doesn’t see the point of raising an issue after the fact. Either way, the ultimate exit interview has none of these potential shortcomings.
Assuming you’ve had more than one job, this question can be answered honestly and with full transparency by you. You don’t have to be concerned about who will read the exit interview transcript or what they will think. You don’t have to be worried about the impact on future job references. The only thing you’re concerned about is the truth.
The reason why the ultimate interview applies, in case you’re wondering, is because employees across the board generally want the same things from their employers. Therefore, the reasons you left your previous employer are the same reasons someone else is planning to leave their current employer.
The point of this exercise is to identify specific areas for improvement where your company is lacking. You may already know what these areas are. If so, this exercise is more of a confirmation. The hard part is actually doing the work to fix whatever needs fixing. And if I may be blunt, if you don’t want to fix a problem that you’re aware of, then don’t complain when employees leave because of it.
As you consider the reasons why you left your previous employer, is there an area where your company needs to make an investment? And are you willing to do so?
Now go forth.

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