Business Miscellaneous

Here’s How to Make Exit Interviews Count

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One of the core issues many businesses face is a high turnover rate, even amidst COVID-19.

That’s because many of them zero in on attracting talent, instead of trying to excavate insights from the employees who choose to seek alternative career prospects, which are rife in today’s economy.


If you let people out of the door without allowing them to share their pain points and struggles on a team- and organization-wide scale, you’ll miss out on a major opportunity to improve attrition and reduce costs associated with replacing departing employees.

Good news?

Exit interviews can help. If done right, they’ll help you glean insights into the key reasons why employees leave your company as well as get action points that will help prevent others from following in their footsteps.

Keep reading to see specific, actionable tips on how to run effective exit interviews and create a high-retention culture at your organization.

Use Timing to Your Advantage

A vast majority of businesses carry out exit interviews in the last week of an employee’s stay.


That’s not the ideal timing because the departing employee has already mentally checked out from the company and grown disengaged by this point.


First, you can conduct an exit interview at the midpoint between when the staffer has announced to leave your organization and their actual departure. The theory here is that the person’s initial rush of emotions will have dried out, yet they’ll be still engaged enough to share the reasons for their resignation.

Another option is to run an exit interview two-four weeks after the staffer has left the company. It’ll give the employee enough time to get a crystal-clear idea of the situation, which should make it easier for you to elicit honest feedback on why they left the company.


With the right timing in place, your chances of running an effective exit interview will improve dramatically.

Get the Right Person in the Driver’s Seat

As a manager, you might think you’re the one who should run an exit interview with an employee that decided to jump ship.

After all, you’ve spent a great deal of time with them and even developed some rapport.


In reality, some employees may be everything but willing to share their sincere reasons for leaving with their direct manager. That’s because they are afraid that supervisors will take action against them, such as refusing to provide a glowing reference letter or not paying them for their accrued vacation time.

Therefore, a better solution is to get HR or a second-line manager to run the interview. These people will be in the buffer zone—emotionally removed from the person—and as a result, they stand a much better chance at excavating honest feedback.

Ask the Right Questions

So far so good.

You know when it’s best to run an exit interview and who should be put in charge of it for maximum impact.


First, you need to eliminate the chances of receiving generic, dishonest responses from the departing employee. After all, most people try to avoid a verbal fight and search in Google for some cookie-cutter answers to common exit interview questions.

To avoid this, assure the person that no matter what they say in the exit interview, it won’t affect them in any way. They’ll still receive a robust reference letter, vacation days, etc., 

Once done, work with HR or second-line supervisors to ensure they ask the right questions.

Below are eight key questions to ask a departing employee that will give you robust insights into what your company can do to improve employee experience in both the person’s department and the organization as a whole:

  1. What made you start to look for alternative employment?
  2. What makes your new role more appealing compared to your current job?
  3. Would you recommend our organization to your friends? Why not?
  4. Is there something we could’ve done (but didn’t) to keep you with us?
  5. Do you feel you were paid fairly? If not, what makes you think so?
  6. Is there anything you’d improve or change at our company as a whole or within your department? Would you be willing to name one-two things?
  7. What’s your least favorite thing about working at our organization?
  8. Is there something you’d like to share that we didn’t talk about?

Once you have the data at your fingertips, you’ll be able to see common patterns and implement changes based on real-life feedback.

About the author


Max Woolf

Max Woolf is a writer at ResumeLab. He’s passionate about helping people land their dream jobs through the expert career industry coverage. In his spare time, Max enjoys biking and traveling to European countries. You can hit him up on LinkedIn.