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Conducting an Exit Interview:

Interviewing a departing staff member can help you better understand how your employees perceive the company's working conditions, pay, benefits and management. The feedback you receive can help you in your recruiting efforts and provide insight into potential problems that may contribute to turnover. Plan exit interviews carefully to ensure they generate honest, useful information. Consider the following tips.

Time It Right:
While most exit interviews are held before an employee departs, you may receive more candid – and constructive – answers about your company once a former staff member has settled into a new job. Those who are leaving are often hampered by the emotions of changing positions. Before an employee's final day, ask if you can contact him or her for a phone interview at a later date.

If your company's policy is to conduct the exit interview in advance of the departure, interview the staff member on his or her last day, when he or she may feel more comfortable speaking freely. Meet in a neutral location such as a conference room to avoid distractions and territorial feelings. Make sure to schedule enough time to ask all of your questions and thoroughly discuss employees' answers.

Be Sincere:
Tell the interviewee you honestly want to find out why he or she is leaving. Let the individual know that your goal is to better understand his or her perspective so that you can make changes to benefit the company.

Ask Thoughtful Questions:
Consider asking the following: "How would you describe the work environment? Does management respond to employee concerns in a thoughtful manner? Why have you decided to leave the company?" Also ask about general likes and dislikes – the more information you gather the better.

Get Specifics:
Gather as many details as possible without discussing other employees. If the conversation steers toward an individual coworker or manager, try to shift the focus back to the job, department or company. Remain as neutral as possible throughout the interview.

Take Emotions Into Account:
Exit interviews should be viewed as just one of many information sources. A hidden agenda could influence what a former staff member says during an interview. If a grievance or claim of unlawful conduct surfaces during the session, be sure to refer the matter to your human resources or legal department.

When conducted properly, exit interviews can provide valuable insight on office morale, helping your firm create a more positive work environment and reduce turnover.


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"When conducted properly, exit interviews can provide valuable insight on office morale, helping your firm create a more positive work environment and reduce turnover."