Exit Interview

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An exit interview can serve as a constructive final step in the disengagement of an employee from a company-either through voluntary departure or termination. In exploring factors underlying the departure and background information illuminating the employee and company experiences, expectations and performance, an exit interview can generate insight and provide guidance for both parties.

Under no circumstances should an exit interview be used as a "bully pulpit" or stage for recrimination. Grievances contributing to the employee's departure may be mentioned, but only in an explanatory, not accusatory, way, and only for the purpose of mutual illumination.

Properly conducted, an exit interview can create a valuable reservoir of good will and understanding.

An exit interview is a final interview held between a company representative, typically an agent of the human resources department, and a resigning or terminated employee. The primary purpose for these interviews is to gain feedback from employees that may aid in improving working conditions or increasing employee retention. While it is not required for an employee to participate in an exit interview, it is considered good practice and insurance against an employer responding adversely should the employee use them as a future reference.

The interview typically consists of a face-to-face meeting where an exiting employee either responds verbally to questions or fills out a questionnaire. From the perspective of the interviewer, the goal of the interaction is to understand how the employee feels about the employer and the reasons behind his or her departure. Attention should be focused on listening to the employee and resist pressuring the employee for information. The aim here is not to defend the company but to understand the viewpoint of one employee. Yes/no questions should be avoided, while encouraging well-thought-out responses to open-ended questions in the vein of "what/why/how do you feel?" The interview should be prepared ahead of time, with preferred flow and details of the experience of the employee in mind.

The major topics to cover during an exit interview are largely related to the experiences of the employee during his or her time at the company. Topics such as level of satisfaction with the job, management, co-workers, and the company in general should be the common themes. Crucial questions include examples such as "What were you least/most satisfied with in your job?" "Did you receive enough training and support to perform your duties effectively?" "What would you improve in the workplace?" "Were satisfied with your salary?" "What do you like most/least about the company?" "Did your work environment make your job more difficult?" and "How do you feel about the performance of your supervisor?"

Because of the collegial, cooperative nature of the exit interview and the interest shown in the employee, as a final in-house interaction, it can end things on a positive note.
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