Have you ever wanted to know what employees really think about their position, the company, their co-workers and their bosses? As an HR professional the information that is shared with you can often be filtered. Some details are left out and some opinions are stifled since no one wants the HR person to have all the dirt… until the exit interview.

It is true that employees who are leaving a company don’t have filters. They are willing to share everything because they don’t feel they are risking anything. HR should always strive to use these interviews to their advantage. Exit interviews provide the perfect opportunity to gain insights into what trainings are needed, what systems are lacking and what conflicts exist within the business.

exit interviewsIt is worth the time to schedule an exit interview as soon as you find out that someone is leaving the company. Always explain that the purpose of the exit interview is just to give you insight into how the company is doing and where it can improve. Share that the content of the exit interview is confidential. Take notes during the conversation but let them know that it is only for your records.

Here’s what you should address in the exit interview:

Employment Separation Basics.

  • Tell them about the logistics of leaving and answer their questions.
  • What will happen with their benefits? If applicable, share when COBRA will become available to them.
  • How will paid time off (PTO) be handled? When will their last paycheck process? How will any pending bonuses or commissions be handled?
  • How will company-owned equipment be handled?

Position Evaluation.

  • Uncover what they enjoyed most and least about their position.
  • What lead to their decision to leave?
  • How will their new position be different?
  • Gain their insights on the kind of skill set and personality they feel would be best for a new person coming into this role.

Manager Evaluation.

  • Discover how often they interacted with their managers.
  • How often they received feedback? Did they feel it was effective?
  • How would they describe their manager’s style of leadership?
  • What type of person would be a good manager of the position they’re leaving?

Organization Evaluation.

  • How they would describe the culture of the company to the new person?
  • What would they change about the company?
  • Determine what they thought of the benefits and compensation package.
  • Discuss the types of trainings they feel would have been helpful individually or company wide.
  • Explore whether they had a difficult time working with any co-workers. If so, what happened?

Exit interviews can be eye opening to an HR department. Take the time to gain the information in a casual, informal process. You may uncover that training is needed in customer service or perhaps management leadership training is needed.

You may discover that the type of skills you’ve been recruiting for are actually much different than the position requires. Exit interviews can be valuable exchanges. Don’t miss out on those opportunities.