The Value of Exit Interviews


By Grant Harrison

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
George Santayana

“Do you have a minute to talk?” Over the years I’ve been asked this question by employees. It’s a question that immediately knots my stomach, as my experience tells me that the employee is about to resign.

When an employee resigns, my mind very quickly begins making a checklist. What are the steps we need to take to fill the role being vacated? Do we need to adjust the job description? Do we fill the job internally or post it externally? By immediately jumping to replacement, I’ve missed an important and valuable step—the exit interview. 

An exit interview is an interview held with an employee about to leave an organization, typically in order to discuss the employee's reasons for leaving and their experience of working for the organization. The exit interview can take various forms; it can be a written survey, can be completed verbally with a manager, or contain elements of both. The exit interview is an opportunity for companies to gain a deeper understanding of their workplace culture, day-to-day operations and employee morale. Employees who are leaving a company are often more candid in their assessment of the company environment and culture, and more forthcoming regarding areas needing improvement. An exit interview also allows employees to leave well, giving them an opportunity to express what they appreciated about working for the company, insight they have into the way the company operates, and areas they feel need improvement. The insight gained from exit interviews can help organizations reduce turnover and increase retention, thus keeping hiring costs and the resources needed to find great employees low.

Here are some questions to ask when conducting an exit interview:
1. Why are you leaving your position?
2. What was your favorite thing about working here?
3. What was your least favorite thing about working here?
4. What could we have done to keep you here?
5. Is there anything your new company offers that we don’t?
6. Did you receive enough training and support to do your job effectively?
7. Would you recommend this company to prospective employees?
8. What advice would you give your replacement if you could? 

While exit interviews are a great opportunity to get some honest feedback, it can be a case of too little, too late. Instead of waiting until someone leaves, use the exit interview questions as a guide to check in with your staff on a regular basis. Ultimately you want your employees to identify and address concerns as they arise, not when they’re on their way out.   

GrowTheBench offers a number of courses designed to help managers provide better coaching and deliver feedback reviews in order to retain employees, in addition to a course module specifically dedicated to the effective handling of employee separations. Visit to learn more. 

Tags: Resignation , Exit Interviews , Interviews ,