Exit Interviews

"All good things must come to an end" - and that includes employment. But before employees ride off into the sunset, there's one important task left to do: the dreaded exit interview.

"If you conducted multiple interviews before hiring someone, how can you justify not talking to them during exit interviews and giving them a respectful send-off when they leave?" asks Omang Agarwal, Lead: Stage Content Products at Inc42

An employee is leaving you - What will they do next? Who will they grow into? What kind of power and influence will they have? And, after all that time, will they remember how you onboarded them? I have my doubts. But I can assure you that even after n years, they will remember how you let them go.

I conducted polls on social media and upon talking to people, many organizations never conduct exit interviews. Some organizations collect exit interview data but do not analyze it. Some analyze it but do not share it with senior executives and managers who can act on it. Only a few gather, analyze, and share data, and then take action.

Exit interviews if conducted properly, come with endless opportunities.

Opportunity to learn about the competition: It can provide valuable information about what other companies are offering and what they're doing right that your organization is not. This information can help you make changes and improvements to your own organization.

Opportunity to learn about external factors: Sometimes employees leave because of external factors that are beyond the control of the organization, such as a spouse getting a job in another city. By conducting exit interviews, you can learn about these external factors and take them into account when developing retention strategies.

Opportunity to learn about employee strengths: It can be a good opportunity to learn about employee strengths and skills that you may not have been aware of before. This information can be helpful when you're looking for new hires or trying to develop existing employees.

Opportunity to improve morale: When employees leave, it can have a negative impact on the morale of the remaining employees. By conducting exit interviews and taking action on the feedback received, you can show your remaining employees that you care about their opinions and are committed to making improvements.

Opportunity to improve employer brand: By taking action on the feedback received in exit interviews, you can improve your employer brand and attract top talent to your organization. When employees see that you take their feedback seriously and are committed to making improvements, they're more likely to recommend your organization to others. Make this an opportunity to turn ex-employees into your cheerleaders.

Exit interviews are a great way to get honest feedback because the employee has no reason to lie at this point.

How to conduct Exit Interviews?

  • Understand the reason for exit - Bad manager, culture, compensation, growth opportunities? What led them to leave? It throws light on the competitive landscape, problems in the organization, and what can be done now. If an employee is leaving out of frustration, that exit interview might be a little too late to have that discussion, you can just make it better for the next person.

  • Have a discussion around Rehiring or future prospects, Is the person open to coming back and working in the future? As a consultant, freelancer, or angel investor. The possibilities can be endless if the employee leaves with a good experience.

  • Analyse Data- Once you have all this information, it's time to analyze the data. Look for patterns or trends that could indicate larger issues within the organization. Use this data to make changes and improvements where necessary. Kaashvi Saxena, Growth Associate, Razorpay says that “Unfortunately, in many organizations, the data collected from exit interviews is not published or analyzed. As a result, there is little impact even if 20 employees leave the company for the same reason. Exit interviews often end up being a mere formality, without any meaningful action taken based on the feedback provided by departing employees.”

  • Have a conversation with Senior Leader - it's crucial to have a conversation with senior leaders in the organization about the insights gleaned from the exit interviews. After all, what good is all that data if it's not acted upon? So, sit down with the bigwigs, share your findings, and work together to make your organization a better place to work.

Should HR conduct it or the Manager?

Prince Kapoor, Founder, Plush mentions that “As a founder, I believe it's important to acknowledge and understand the journey that candidates go through - the good, the bad, the expected, and the unexpected. That's why I conduct exit interviews. After all, if you expect someone to give you their time and effort, it's only fair that you do the same for them.”

In most organizations, Exit Interviews are entirely an HR function. Indeed, HR frequently conducts interviews and consolidates data, only sharing it with management when specifically requested.

Tejas Kinger who works at Plum mentioned “A lot of times managers are the reason of exit, hence HR becomes a neutral party to take the interview.”

However, this approach marginalizes the process and implies that it is merely an operational obligation rather than a strategic opportunity. Human resources may manage the program on a daily basis, but it is critical that the appropriate line leaders participate in the interviews and that the executive committee oversees the program's design, execution, and results. We suggest you pick this topic up with your top management annually and decide.

And remember, if you're ever in doubt about whether to conduct an exit interview or not, just think of it this way: you wouldn't skip the final scene of a movie, would you? So don't skip the exit interview

Do you want to feature in one of the issues? Email janhavi.jain@springworks.in or DM @janwhyy on Twitter.