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How to Conduct an Exit Interview: Tips and Precautions

by Lisa A. Yeager

Long goodbyes are never easy.

Businesses often cite employee retention as a greater struggle than recruitment—and that has remained true even in the middle of a global pandemic. That’s why exit interviews provide an excellent way to plug this leak and figure out what’s going wrong. Yet, exit interviews aren’t always straightforward. Here are some simple tips on conducting an exit interview, along with some precautions to take.

How to Conduct an Exit Interview: Tips and Precautions 2

Draw Up Questions

An exit interview should be more than an informal chat. It’s a fact-finding opportunity and an important meeting from a legal perspective.

As such, you should apply a little structure. Drawing up a list of questions and discussion points before the meeting will keep things structured, focused, and useful to both parties, making the best possible use of everyone’s time.

Think Feelings and Facts

Choosing to leave your employer isn’t always an easy decision, and it can involve practical realities and emotional drivers. Don’t neglect either side of the question when it comes to the exit interview. It would be best if you got the complete picture from your employee.

This should include discussing your employee’s feelings and emotions. However, it would help if you took great care to discuss these emotions within a professional context—this is no time for recriminations and mudslinging.

Document Everything

Documentation is the best friend of compliance and analytics. By documenting everything about your employee’s exit journey, you’ll have the facts present when you need them. That makes it much easier to analyze what went right or wrong with your employee’s journey and may even prove useful should they decide to return to the company.

If any legal issues should arise as a result of your employee’s departure, you’ll be able to show that your company has taken all the right steps and followed internal procedures. That ensures you’re much less likely to fall foul of any compliance issues relating to your employee’s rights.

Be Wary of Legal Traps

Depending on the reasons behind your employee’s departure, there could be some thorny legal issues associated with it. If you aren’t careful, you could add fuel to any potential legal fire by making mistakes during the exit process.

The best way to avoid these legal traps is always to think professionally. You aren’t representing yourself, but your company keeps things as by the book as possible. By taking this precaution, you’re also engaging in financial risk management, as legal battles can be costly.

Analyze Results

As any good business knows, future success lies in analyzing past performance. That’s no different in HR.

Exit interviews often highlight systemic problems that could be causing a high turnover. By analyzing what you’ve gathered during the exit interview, you can learn things that may improve aspects of your business, like employee morale or retention. With turnover being an expensive, endemic problem for many businesses, that information could be worth its word count in gold.

How to Conduct an Exit Interview the Right Way

With these tips in mind, you’ll know how to conduct an exit interview the right way. That can allow you to treat even the loss of an employee as a growth opportunity for your business.

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