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With a strong labor market right now, today’s professionals have more options than ever and unfortunately for employers, it could mean losing employees and conducting exit interviews.

Although they can be difficult and a bit awkward, exit interviews are great tools for learning about your company, including what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong as an organization.

To get the most out of exit interviews, you ought to approach them as you would a job interview: Be professional and come prepared.

Create a safe space

The most important factor to running an effective exit interview is to produce an environment where the exiting employee feels safe offering honest feedback. People leaving a job are often worried about their reputations in their field and how an exit interview could be used against them. They don’t want to worry about criticizing a manager or coworker, and then hearing from that person about the criticism in the future.

An exit interview is most effective when the leaving employee trusts that her or his feedback will be used anonymously to improve company or work environment.

Find out what you are losing

Find out how much the employee learned and how the business benefited from their hard work. Try to learn if the employee played a unique role in the company’s success and how best to fill that role moving forward.

It’s also important to find out if the employee’s abilities weren’t being fully used. If not, ask about specific examples where his or her skills could have been utilized, but were not. This line of conversation should segue neatly into asking about the employee’s rationale for leaving. Find out if specific actions by the employee’s boss or the company lead to the decision to leave.

Learn about your leaders

It’s perfectly normal for middle managers to present one side of their personality to upper management and another side to the folks they supervise. The problem with this duality comes when it leads to dishonesty.

Exit interviews are highly effective ways for upper management to get a ground-level view of their middle managers in action. This insight into leadership styles can be used to reinforce positive habits and eliminate toxic ones.

Dig into HR issues

A company’s HR policies may have a role in a worker’s decision to leave. Be sure to ask exiting employees their thoughts on policies relating to vacation time, opportunities for promotion, various benefits, perks and pay rate.

Dispatch a brand advocate

While it may be difficult to completely change a long-time employee’s impression of a company in an exit interview, treating departing employees with appreciation and gratitude may cause them to recommend the company to prospective employees, recommend the companies’ products and services and build a business connection with their new employers.

 

Looking for Help During Your Next Exit Interview?

At Cornerstone, we regularly consult companies on how to handle exit interviews and we often conduct these interviews ourselves. Please contact us today if your company is looking to partner with a staffing firm that can provide this level of support.


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