The Strategy of an Exit Interview

Exit interviews can be beneficial for both the company and the employee, providing they are doing with the right strategy in mind.  When employers have exit interviews, they need to make sure they are consistent, productive and provide information relevant to the exiting employee.  

Employer Perspective.

To make the exit interview consistent, have a structure in place and follow it with every single employee that leaves the company. Don’t pick and choose which employees to conduct them with, do it with every and anyone who leaves the company (even those who are terminated).

A productive exit interview should include determining last date of employment, letting the employee know when they can expect their final paycheck and for how many days.  This is the time to turn in the badge (if applicable) and hand over any passwords, laptop, phone or any other pieces that belong to the company.

Relevant information should be provided to the employee, when applicable.  This can include medical insurance coverage information, discussing 401k information, unpaid vacation/PTO time and how that is handled, reiterating a non-compete and other concerns as the employee exits the company.

This is not the time for an employer to badger the employee about their new employment, where they are going, what they will be making, etc.  Once the employee gives notice, the employer no longer has the right to ask those questions.  This is also not the time to ask a terminated employee to give feedback on your company.  No need to look for props from someone you just let go.

Employee Perspective.

Employees should always accept the opportunity for the exit interview if offered.  This is the time when the employee to find out pertinent information upon leaving the company.  Information like are they eligible for COBRA, what can they do with their 401k, do they get paid for any unused vacation/PTO time, when they can expect their final paycheck, etc. 

If the employee is leaving for reasons that they are willing to share during this exit interview, the information should be communicated clearly, factually and without emotion.  Even if the employee leaving is leaving because of a bad experience, the emotional side, the drama, or the disparaging comments should be excluded from this (or any) conversation.  Stick to the facts, and only the facts.  If you feel the need to vent or complain, do it to someone other than a representative of the company you are leaving.

Keep in mind, if the employee has already accepted another position, there shouldn’t be any negotiating at this point.  It is strictly for a sharing of information.  The employee doesn’t need to share where they are going, what the title of the new position is, or what their new income will be.  That is private information.  Conversely, now is not the time to try to negotiate a counter offer to stay.  If that was an option, the employee should have done it before they gave notice.

Final Thoughts.

Exit interviews are a good time to share information so both parties walk away with their questions answered.  If you want to have a heart to heart with your employer/employee, now can be the time to speak frankly and openly.  Document what was discussed and when appropriate, have a third-party present for support on either side.  Be professional, mature and accountable during the process.  Both parties can use this as a learning experience and grow from it.

PS.  There is no sense wasting energy on a negative, aggressive exit interview, so I’m not going to address that thought process in this blog.  Plain and simple, it’s not appropriate.

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