Monday, June 15, 2009

Exit Interview

What is Exit Interview?
  • It is a meeting between an employee who has voluntarily resigned from the organization and at least one representative from the human resources management (HRM or HR) department or any other executive of the organization from any department, particularly designated for the purpose of exit interview.
  • The interviewer from the organization's side should be an un-biased person with maturity and objectivity.
  • The representative of HR department or any other department assigned for exit interview and the departing employee get into a dialogue based on the experiences and impressions of the employee about various aspects of the organization.
  • The organizational representative normally facilitates this discussion.
  • Lots of listening during the exit interview is expected from the organization's representative for achieving the objectives of the exit interview.
  • Exit interview is normally conducted after the employee's resignation has been accepted.
  • It is normally conducted while the employee is still serving his last days in the organization. At times, the ex-employee is invited for the exit interview within a short time after he has physically departed from the organization.

Objectivity of Feedback Through Exit Interviews

  • Exit interviews provide an excellent opportunity to survey and analyse the feedback and opinions of departing employees who being free now, are a rich source of information and who generally are more forthcoming, candid, constructive and objective than the employees still in the organization.
  • Majority of the departing employees are generally glad to share their knowledge about the organization from their experience to help the successor and to brief the management.
  • For better success from exit interviews, the organization should have a documented policy. It should state the entire exit interview process including its objectives.
  • The interviewers, whether from HR or other line or staff departments, must be well trained for this purpose. Since interviews may touch on emotional situations, the interviewers should be skilled and mature persons to manage them effectively.
  • The interview format and questions should be well designed. If organization wants to use a questionnaire to be filled by the employee, the questionnaire should be a well thought out document.

Objectives of Exit Interviews

  • Presence of exit interview system in an organization confirms the open culture of an organization to the existing employees as well as to outsiders. They can then believe that the organization is open to ideas and criticism; that the organization tries to care and understand.
  • Exit interview system enriches the organization's HR culture, policies and practices.
  • Very useful data and information are collected from the exit interviews on may aspects about which organization is concerned e.g. company's culture; its policies; it's relationship with employees, customers, suppliers, community; its systems and processes, HR policies and practices, health and safety issues, their own good and bad experiences with the organization and its various managers etc. Based on their analysis, organization can bring about many improvements.
  • It enables transfer of knowledge and experience from the departing employee to his successor.
  • It can also be used to brief a team on various aspects of current projects handled by the departing employee.
  • Exit interviews provide a good development process for the organization's managers who participate in the exit interviews and also for those managers with whom the data and information collected from the exit interviews are shared and discussed.
  • Exit interviews can provide lots of useful tips and information for improving the employees retention level in the organization.
  • In some special situations, an exit interview can even provide a chance to the organization to retain a valuable employee whom the organization would love to retain, even after he has resigned.
  • At times exit interview may be used to pacify a disgruntled employee or to make peace with him, who might otherwise leave the organization with intentions of taking revenge or with a bad taste in mouth about the organization.
  • Cynics may believe the exit interview may be used to solely capture the information particularly from a disgruntled vengeful employee in case of future litigation from him. In few cases, it may be true.

How Should Departing Employee Tackle Exit Interview?

  • Exit interview is voluntary. Yet, employee can look at it positively and attend.
  • If the employee smells rat in the process, he may excuse himself from it by giving some convincing reasons like being busy or some such reason. Do not refuse it upfront totally. The organization may remember the refusal in a bad light. Why annoy the organization?
  • The answers to the questions asked in the interview should be given objectively with positive outlook and in a constructive manner. It is good to pass on the advantages of your observations and experience to the company even while you are leaving as it builds up a good win-win relationship. All you know, the company may want you back after some time or you may like to join the company when the situations become conducing for you. So why not part with the company in good humor?
  • However, in situations where you believe that your replies may be used against you, it will be a good idea to provide generic and non-critical responses.

Some Sample Questions for Use by Organization's Interviewer

(Caution: The questions suggested here are only a broad guide and not a prescription. So, use them appropriately applying your own discretion within the framework of your exit interview objectives and process)

  • What triggered your decision to leave?
  • What is your primary reason for leaving?
  • Why is this so important for you?
  • Any other reasons?
  • Before deciding to leave, did you explore the possibility of a transfer to any other department or to the other units of the company?
  • What could have been done to prevent the situation?
  • What are your suggestions for managing such situation better in future?
  • Now, can you suggest what should we do to stop your going?
  • Can you be persuaded to renegotiate the possibility of staying? And how?
  • Would you consider working again for this company in the future?
  • Would you recommend this company to your family and friends as a good employer? Why?
  • What does your new organization offer that this organization doesn't?
  • Would you like to tell us about your new organization?
  • What can the company do to retain its best people and not lose any more like you?
  • Did your job turn out to be as you expected?
  • During your stay with the organization what were your most satisfying moments?
  • What were your least satisfying moments?
  • Given freedom, what would you change about your job?
  • What could you have done better or more for the organization if you were given an opportunity?
  • What is your opinion on the kind of organizational and departmental support and guidance you got?
  • What additional responsibilities you would have liked?
  • How could have been done to use your capabilities and potential fully?
  • What about the training you got? Your comments on our recruitment, induction and training systems.
  • What kind of training was most useful and enjoyable for you?
  • What would you say about the departmental and inter-departmental communication and relationships in the organization?
  • Did anyone in this company discriminate against you, harass you or cause hostile working conditions for you?
  • How well organization’s performance appraisal and reward system worked for you?
  • What suggestions do you have to improve the performance appraisal and reward system?
  • Were you happy with your pay, perquisites, other benefits and incentives? Any suggestions?
  • What are your opinions about the organization as a whole? Say, company culture, its major policies, products, customer relations, working conditions etc.
  • What are the most important four or five areas that come to your mind where improvements are required the most in the company? And what kind of improvements?
  • Do you have any suggestions to help us find your successor? Any particular person in mind?
  • What can we do to enable you to pass on your knowledge and experience to your successor and your team prior to your departure?
  • How and when would you prefer to pass on your knowledge and experience to your successor and the team?
  • May we request you to introduce your successor to your key business contacts before leaving? We will be highly thankful for this.
  • We will be grateful if you agree to give us your phone number and address on which we can contact you in future. Is that OK with you?

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