More often than not, it's usually a bad thing for your business when one of your employee's hands in their notice. Despite this, a silver lining is that by completing an exit interview you can gain an invaluable feedback point of the internal culture of your company which can drive positive change to retain your top performers. With this in mind, Aaron Wallis Marketing Recruitment has collated a series of tips for conducting effective exit interviews:

Plan to perfection

The biggest pitfall in exit interviewing is scheduling an hour-long session with a leaver without a clear format and planned questions. This can create too an open discussion which isn’t productive for you as an employer. Think of it a job interview in reverse, rather than a candidate justifying why they’re the right fit for your organisation, plan the exit interview to create an environment where the employee can openly explain the reasons why they want to leave. Simple things like booking a truly private meeting room and picking the right interviewer can make a world of difference. Often an employees line manager may not be the right person to conduct the exit interview.

Pick your questions carefully

There are key internal themes which are the most useful areas to gain feedback from an employee leaving. Focus your questions around company structure, culture and incentives to get the most out of your exit interviews. As such, the recruitment agency suggests the following 5 questions are worth including in exit interviews:

  1. What could we have done to keep you? - this isn’t necessarily about convincing an employee to stay, usually, it’s too late for this. This question can give you proactive insight into retaining your best members of the team.
  2. How did you find the culture of our company? - company culture is a current hot-topic in business and any feedback in this area can drive beneficial change in your organisation.
  3. Are staff recognised and rewarded appropriately? - this may be a financial incentive or something as simple as internal recognition schemes. Improving how valued employees feel in your organisation is crucial to keep your top performers.
  4. Were you happy with the way you were managed? - a common grievance of employees is the organisational structure of a business and how they were treated by their superiors. Try to keep the discussion about company structure rather than individual managers.
  5. Would you ever return to our company? Particularly for a top performer who may be leaving, it can be extremely useful to know what you’d have to do to re-attract top talent.

Focus your questions around company structure, culture and incentives to get the most out of your exit interviews
Focus your questions around company structure, culture and incentives to get the most out of your exit interviews

Questions not to ask

It’s important to keep aware of any hints of individual bullying or harassment, but a more structural discussion is likely to be the insight you need to make a positive change in your organisation. Asking about individuals, or relationships with a particular colleague, can fuel office gossip and what you hear might not be entirely accurate or fair.

Leave on good terms

Finally, it’s crucial to do all you can to ensure that a leaving employee has a positive impression of your business. After all, it’s a small world in business and people talk - negative external perceptions of your company can prevent you from recruiting other top talents from the industry. Robert Scott, Managing Director at Aaron Wallis Marketing Recruitment said:

“Exit interviews are a rare opportunity to discover the inner-workings of your company and find out views that employees may have been previously afraid to share. Creating an open and structured exit interview process for every leaver is a key step for driving positive change in your business. ”