ASAP Talks: Tips for Effective Exit Interviews

Exit interviews are an invaluable tool for organizations looking to improve their workplace culture, retention strategies, and overall employee satisfaction. They provide an opportunity to gain candid feedback from departing employees about experiences at all levels within the company.  Let’s examine more on how to conduct effective exit interviews.

Plan Ahead

Schedule the exit interview well in advance, ideally a few days to a week before the employee's last day. This timing ensures that both parties have ample time to prepare, and ensures the interview is not lost in the many moving parts of a departing employee'.

Establish a Comfortable Environment

Encourage open and honest communication by creating a non-confrontational and respectful atmosphere. Avoid being defensive or taking any responses personally.  Retain a company lens while assuring the departing employee that their feedback will be used constructively and confidentially.

Use a Standardized Format

To ensure consistency for feeding the facilitation of analysis, implement a standardized set of questions for exit interviews by org and role type. Be sure to include specific questions based on department, team, and individual role and responsibilities, while maintaining a baseline for comparison.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Questions that prompt for more than a “yes” or “no” can elicit valuable details from responses. Uncover likes and dislikes about the role, reason for leaving, whether they would welcome working in the same department for the same manager if they returned to the company, request suggestions for improvement, opportunities to share company challenges, and encourage an overall experience rating for role, department and company.

Engage Active Listening

Since the primary purpose of an exit interview is to gather and discover new perspectives and information, listen attentively, and  take notes. Be sure to ask follow-up questions when a response requires additional clarity all the while being mindful that each interview is an opportunity for outcomes to lead to continuous improvement for the company.

Focus on Constructive Feedback

While it's important to discuss any negative aspects of the employee's experience, focus to retain constructive feedback. Seek to gather detail on how employee believe situations could have been handled differently or what changes the employee would suggest for improving the issues or scenarios shared.

Respect Employee’s Decision

Keep in mind that the goal of each exit interview is to learn more about an employee’s experiences with the company, so do not attempt to convince the employee to remain with the company. Respect their decision, perspective and use each discussion as an opportunity to gain insight for team, department and organizational improvements.

Follow Up

If the departing employee raises serious concerns or issues, ensure the employee is made aware that the concerns will be appropriately addressed. In most circumstances, it is important to avoid promising to share an update due to the departing employee becoming an external contact once the investigation is completed.

Analyze the Data

Analyze the collected data gathered from each exit interview to identify trends, areas for improvement, and potential risks. This can inform future HR policies, protocol, initiatives, and strategies.

Action the Feedback

Finally, action the resulting feedback where appropriate and aligned to company vision and policy. Actions can involve improvements of communication channels or communication frequency, adjust workloads, or enhance access to training programs. Leverage the extracted insights to significantly improve your organization's culture, vulnerabilities, risks, and retention rates.


Exit interviews are a resourceful tool for improving an organization's workplace environment and reducing turnover rates when conducted effectively. By following these best practices, your organization can transform exit interview results to strengthen company culture.

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