How to Conduct an Exit Interview

Questions to ask + do’s and don’ts for conducting an exit interview that yields helpful insights to improve company culture and retention.

Desiree Grosman
June 22, 2023

Finding and keeping good employees in the home services, construction and manufacturing is the #1 concern for business owners right now. The high rate of turnover in these industries is costly and time-consuming. So when someone leaves your company, it's important to get their side of the story.

By conducting an exit interview, you can get a better understanding of why an employee is leaving and find out what went wrong. You can also use the information from the exit interview to improve your company culture and retain employees. Here's how to properly conduct an exit interview and get the most out of it.

What Is the Purpose of Exit Interviews

When an employee makes the decision to leave, exit interviews give you a chance to learn from the situation. Constructive criticism is a good thing and can help you improve your company.

In the current skilled labor shortage, employee satisfaction is more important than ever. You need to do everything you can to keep your workers happy and engaged. So getting general feedback about the work environment, company culture and management style can be extremely helpful.

Exit interviews also give you an opportunity to get specific feedback about the employee's job. This can help you identify any training or process issues that need to be addressed. Safety is always a top concern in industries like construction, home services and manufacturing. So if an employee feels that they weren't properly trained or didn't have the right equipment, that's something you need to know about.

And finally, exit interviews give you a chance to say goodbye and thank your employees for their time with the company. Your departing employee can still have a big influence on current and future employees, so it's important to end on a good note.

You don’t have to wait until an employee quits to gather valuable feedback. Employee surveys via text can help you stay ahead of any problems.

How to Give an Exit Interview

Depending on why a person is leaving your company, exit interviews can be emotional. It's important to keep the lines of communication open and avoid coming across as confrontational. Here are a few tips for conducting an exit interview that's positive and productive:

Who should conduct the exit interview:

In small companies, it's often the owner or manager. In larger companies, it might be someone from human resources. Whoever conducts the exit interview should be someone the employee feels comfortable talking to. Their direct supervisor could have made some of the top leadership mistakes and burned a bridge, so it's best if the interviewer is impartial and objective.

When to schedule an exit interview:

If your employee is kind enough to give two weeks notice, you should schedule the exit interview for their last day. This way, they won't feel like they're being penalized for being honest about their reasons for leaving.

If your employee is leaving without notice, try to schedule the exit interview as soon as possible.

If you're in a situation where the employee is being fired or let go, they may need time to cool off. Try scheduling the exit interview for a week or two later. It may be more difficult to get them to offer feedback at that point, but it's worth trying.

Where to conduct the interview:

Conduct exit interviews in a private setting. This will help the departing employee feel more comfortable sharing honest feedback.

What to say in an exit interview:

Negative feedback can be hard to hear. But it's important to remain calm and professional. Thank the employee for their time with the company and let them know that their feedback is appreciated.

We'll go into specific exit interview questions below, but here are a few general tips:

  • Keep the exit interview focused on the company, not the individual employee.
  • Avoid placing blame or making accusations.
  • Be prepared to listen to what the employee has to say, without getting defensive.

Length of exit interview:

Exit interviews should be scheduled for at least 30 minutes. This gives you enough time to ask all the questions you need to and really get into the details. If you anticipate a longer conversation, communicate that to the employee in advance.

Best Exit Interview Questions

Many employers don't gather helpful information during exit interviews because they're not sure what to ask. Remember, your goal is to discover how you can improve your organization for the next person in that role.

Open-ended questions are usually the most revealing. But if you're struggling to come up with the right exit interview questions, here are a few to get you started:

  • What was your experience with management at our company?
  • Was there anything we could have done to make your job better?
  • Did our hiring practices set you up for success in your role?
  • Do you feel your job description accurately represented the work you were doing?
  • Do you feel like you had the opportunity to grow and develop in your role?
  • What do you think we could do to improve employee retention?
  • What do you think we could do to better support employees who are struggling in their roles?
  • If you could change one thing about our company, what would it be?

These exit interview questions are a starting point, but remember that every industry is different. Many online exit interview questionnaires fail to take into account the specific needs of businesses in the home improvement, construction, and manufacturing industries. You might have to tailor your questions to get the most relevant and helpful information, such as:

  • Were you equipped with the tools you needed to do your job effectively?
  • Have you ever experienced unsafe working conditions?
  • Based on your prior job experience, did our company align with industry standards?

Chances are, other employees share some of the same opinions or concerns. By asking the right questions, you can identify these issues and make changes to improve your company for everyone. For even more ideas, check out this employee exit survey interview template.

The next exit interview you conduct is an opportunity to learn and grow. And when it's time for you to fill that vacant position again, Team Engine can help.

We offer automated hiring software solutions that can help you identify the best candidates for the job and get them in the door fast. Try Team Engine now, risk-free.

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