- Talent Management
When an employee leaves a company, the exit interview, if it’s conducted at all, is probably hasty and is seen as more of a formality or technicality than an important part of the overall talent management strategy.
If that’s the case, it’s time to rethink that view of the exit interview, and use it to glean valuable insight that can help you remain competitive through the attraction and cultivation of the very best talent in your industry.
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Many industry experts believe the exit interview isn’t best done during the days leading up to an employee’s departure, but instead should be done at least a few weeks after the person has left. Some companies will do the interview months or more past the employee’s last day.
By waiting to conduct an exit interview, you’re taking the likelihood of an emotional response out of the equation, and you’re more likely to get objective answers.
The exit interview really is one of the rare opportunities you’re going to have to get an up close idea of how your employees feel, and where gaps in your talent management strategy exist. Don’t rely on a survey or an automated exit interview process, because you’re losing out on potential insight that can be incredibly valuable.
Dedicate the resources to doing a thorough and in-person exit interview, and rather than having someone in human resources conduct it, you may want to consider someone in a manager or leadership position as being the go-to person for the exit interview.
Another idea is to conduct the exit interview in a conversational style, letting things flow naturally as opposed to sticking to a set of pre-determined questions if you really want to get down to the core of why you’re losing an employee.
Approach it Holistically
Typically the exit interview features pretty run-of-the-mill questions that let you learn why a person is leaving your company, but try to formulate exit interview questions and structure that approach it from a holistic standpoint.
What this means is that you should try to understand the employees’ perspective in terms of both the strengths and weaknesses of your company, as well as the factors leading up to their decision, beyond the standard salary-related factors.
To avoid automatic defensiveness or fear of answering honestly, ask questions about the employee’s job search—for example, what prompted them to start looking in the first place? This is often better than simply asking why they’re leaving your company, because they may not feel comfortable answering honestly. When you can open up the conversation using a different approach you can help eliminate barriers to a truthful response, and get more valuable information from the interview.
While it may be a good idea to have a manger or leader of the company conduct exit interviews, another option is to utilize a third-party. Some employees may feel defensive or even resentful toward their former employer, which can cloud the objectivity of their questions.
If you feel this is a concern, work with a third-party, and conduct exit interviews on an anonymous basis, so you’re more likely to get honesty.
Use the Information
Don’t simply look at an interview as a formality—after every exit interview, develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with the data in an actionable way.
You can then put in place talent management strategies that will allow you to make changes in your organization, and you can view the impact those changes have on future exit interviews.
The exit interview should certainly be a key tenant of any comprehensive talent management strategy. Without receiving feedback as to why you’re losing your employees, how can you make the changes that are going to help you reduce your turnover and develop the very best talent?