Why use an exit interview template?
It can be stressful planning your exit interview survey when you’ve got little time and want to ensure you’ve left no stone unturned in examining the reasons behind your employee’s departure.
That’s why we’ve created an employee exit interview template to help you. Like all of our template surveys, this can be used as it is or easily customised to suit your needs.
Exit interview advice
Like all HR surveys, the employee exit survey is a quick, effective way of gathering some initial insight into the feelings and thought processes of an employee. However, if you’re looking for some deeper insight into the reasons behind a staff members decision to leave, an exit interview can provide the perfect tool, giving you the time and space to explore their reasons in a bit more depth.
However, if you’re to get the most out of these sessions, there’s a number of things you need to consider first.
When it comes to the timing of an exit interview with your departing employee, there’s certainly some contrasting debate about when it’s best to conduct it. While some believe it should be conducted fairly soon after they’ve handed in their notice, others believe it should be one of the final things they do on their last day.
Ideally, the timing needs to be somewhere between the two. During their final few days, when their thoughts about their reasons for leaving are still fresh and before they lose interest completely and are just counting down the final few hours in their role.
You’ll also have to decide who conducts your exit interviews, whether it’s the employee’s line manager or direct supervisor, a member of your HR team, or even an external consultant.
If you choose the employee’s line manager or director supervisor, they will be able to really drill down into any issues an employee may have had with their role, team colleagues, the resources available to do their jobs or any training issues. However, the downside is that if the employee didn’t get on with their manager, they may be unlikely to provide any useful feedback, or could refuse to do the interview altogether.
Using someone from your HR team, to conduct the interview is also a popular choice among organisations. While they can focus on role-specific issues and complaints, they can also consider issues in the wider organisation that may have affected the individual being interviewed. The only downside of this approach is that because they are unlikely to know this employee as well as their direct manager, they may find it harder to get them to open up and talk.
In some cases, if an employer experienced a sudden problem with a high turnover of staff they might decide to go with a more neutral option, such as an external consultant. Such neutrality could be useful in getting interviewees to open up and reveal the real cause behind their decision to leave, but the obvious downside of this approach would be the costs of outsourcing such support.
There’s advantages and disadvantages to each of these interviewer approaches, so you’ll need to select the best person to carry out your exit interview on a case-by-case basis.
When it comes to the tone of your exit interview, although it’s quite a formal process, you don’t want the tone of the interview to be too formal. It’s far better to keep a more casual, friendly and open tone, as this creates an unthreatening atmosphere where interviewees will be far more likely to open up about how they’ve been feeling.
It also helps at the beginning of your interview to explain its purpose, stating clearly that you conduct these interviews in order to make positive changes and improve your company culture. Ask for their help and highlight how much you’d value their honesty and constructive feedback. In addition, assuring your departing employee that everything they say will be confidential and anonymous will also facilitate this process and keep the conversation flowing.
Again, there’s some debate about the best place to host an employee exit.
While some say anywhere on site is fine, others believe an exit interview is better conducted offsite on neutral territory, particularly if there have been any misconduct concerns about the individual being interviewed or they had any issues with management.
However, as a rule of thumb, as long as you have somewhere quiet and private to talk, where the departing employee feels comfortable and safe to state their opinions and share their feelings that should be fine.
From working conditions and culture and employee/management relations, to staff pay and benefits and employee training. When it comes to your ‘exit interview questions’ you need to make sure your questions cover all areas of your business, so, you know you’ve addressed all the areas that may have potentially influenced your employees’ decision for leaving.
While our exit interview template offers a good starting point in terms of some strong staple questions to include in your next interview, it’s also prudent to be aware of what not to say in an exit interview setting.
Here are some questions you’d be better off avoiding.
Why didn’t you like working here?
When employees choose to quit, it may leave you feeling shocked, hurt, angry or relieved. However, for the sake of your employer brand, it’s inappropriate to make them aware of these emotions.
You would be better off offering more positive alternative questions that could uncover valuable suggestions to help improve conditions for existing and future employees such as: “What things in particular would you change about this job?” or “What would your suggestions be to improve our workplace?”
What were the worst things you had to deal with?
Again, too much focus on the negative could risk ruining the atmosphere and lead to your interviewee becoming tight lipped, rather than talking freely and honestly about their experiences, which is really the objective of these session.
Therefore, consider asking some questions about good practices and positive things instead, so they can show you what you’re doing right.
Are you willing to reconsider and stay? Could we do anything to make you stay?
This one’s a definite no, no. Exit interviews are not the time to ask your employee to reconsider their resignation. Your purpose is to learn about their perspective.
The perfect opportunity to learn and improve
While any interview has the potential to rake up some uncomfortable feedback, the benefits far outweigh any negatives, as when anyone decides to move on, the exit interview provides the ideal opportunity for a company to find out what went wrong. More importantly, they can then use what they learnt to avoid losing other employees for similar reasons in the future.
This shows the value of conducting an employee exit interview. However, if you’re to realise the greatest value it’s best carried out in tandem with an exit interview survey, that not only helps you to quickly cover off a lot of ground in your questioning, but also provides the analysis and reporting tools needed to make sense of your data and spot key trends in your employee churn.
Together with your face-to-face exit interview, this will make your employee exit process a much more efficient and effective activity.