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Turning Goodbyes Into Opportunities: How Exit Interviews Boost Employee Retention

Turning Goodbyes Into Opportunities: How Exit Interviews Boost Employee Retention

Suppose you’re leaving your company and are to sit for an exit interview (EI). Would you give honest, critical feedback or a generic answer to be safe?

Reportedly, many outgoing employees aren’t honest in their exit interviews. Some may speak their mind but most are hesitant and resort to giving safe answers.

Conversely, if you’re an interviewer or an employer, an employee’s genuine feedback will benefit you. An exit interview will help you understand the company’s shortcomings, obtain data, and solve accordingly.

However, to get an employee’s honest feedback, employers should come up with strategic EI practices. This article will unravel exit interviews best practices and their benefits to organizations.

Boosting Employee Retention Through Exit Interviews

Exit interviews are one of the best employee retention techniques. Unfortunately, it’s often overlooked, or some organizations conduct it just for the sake of it.

A person would leave their current job for various reasons, such as career advancement. Some go due to a toxic workplace. Regardless, it’s costly and time-consuming to induct a new employee. One has to start from scratch!

For instance, Mr. A, a talented employee of the XYZ company, decides to leave his current job and switch to a different one. Here is how the organization will proceed following the event:

  • First, the organization will discuss with the HR team on inducting a new worker.
  • Once discussed, HR will release the job ad with a description through a consultancy service or by the company directly.
  • The HR scans through thousands of resumes and filters the best ones out.
  • The hiring process ends once they find a suitable person for the assigned job.
  • The next stage introduces the selected person to the company, its job responsibilities, and more.

It’s a rigorous process and affects the work productivity of the organization. As an employer, you can’t stop an employee from leaving the job unless you’re an authoritarian.

What you can do is conduct exit interviews, which will help in retaining top talent. Increasing employee loyalty is achievable if the organization follows exit interviews best practices.

In fact, various organizations conducting these interviews have helped them find employee retention strategies. Employee feedback in exit interviews helps organizations find loopholes within.

However, most employees hesitate to reveal their true feelings and stick to giving a safe answer. An article in CNBC shows that some are afraid of their interviewer as it would ruin their reputation or career.

Well, it’s understandable. Imagine pouring out all your frustrations to the interviewer, only to end up not getting a reference from your former boss.

Much of the responsibility lies on HR managers conducting exit interviews. In fact, with some exit interviews best practices, employees often reveal their true feelings.

Conducting Exit Interviews: Tips And Guidelines

In order to get honest feedback from outgoing employees, much of it depends on exit interview questions and how it’s asked. Given below is a list of exit interviews best practices that will help in employee retention solutions:

Conducting The Interview Personally

There are various ways to conduct exit interviews, such as online surveys, email, or over the phone. However, the best practice is taking the interview in person. It’s more effective and will help you observe an employee’s personality and body language. That way, you can gather many follow-up questions, allowing you to get the most out of it.

Exit Interview Should Be One To One

Imagine yourself sitting for an exit interview, and the interviewer panel includes your team leader and a few superiors. Precisely, some of your worst nightmares. Wouldn’t you feel intimidated? It’s one of the worst employee departure strategies! A personal one-to-one interview is recommended. With less strain, the employee will share more in expressing their genuine feelings.

Friendly Atmosphere

The most important task of an interviewer is to make the departing employee comfortable. Be open and tell them that whatever they reveal is anonymous and confidential. Giving genuine assurance will help them ease their mind and express their feeling honestly. In return, you get the most out of it for exit interview data analysis.

Let Them Know The Purpose Of Exit Interview

Explain to your departing employee the aim and purpose of this interview. Let them know that these interviews will help improve workplace culture or make positive changes in the company. Ask for constructive feedback or suggestions, like if they have interview questions to ask the employer. Being genuine and open helps both parties.

Maintain Consistency

Be consistent when conducting an exit interview. In short, ask the same prearranged questions to all the leaving employees. This practice allows you to compare answers effectively and be much more manageable. In addition, it enables you to detect employee engagement strategies.

Exit Interviews Best Practices

In order to have a proper exit interview analysis, here is a list of practices that you can follow:

Diversifying The Interviewing Team

The HR department is mainly involved with interviews. If you’re the leader, engage with your team to find the latest exit interview trends. Most importantly, it will help create helpful exit interview templates. You will have a better understanding of employees from different backgrounds, thus resulting in diversity recruiting benefits.

Ensuring Seamless Employee Offboarding Process

Offboarding is a critical process where the company ensures a smooth transition of the leaving employee. Providing an effective departing approach reduces stress and also ends the relationship on a good term. You wouldn’t want your former employee to backbite about your company and tarnish its reputation.

HR Leadership In The Digital Age

An organization runs smoothly with an effective HR team. It may be an overlooked department, but without this team, it creates a void in the company. Who is going to take care of the onboarding and offboarding of employees?

It’s the heart of the organization, and an effective team will improve the company’s goodwill. In the digital age, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with new technology, which will further help implement excellent talent management strategies.

For instance, by using exit interview software, you can conduct an employee safety or satisfaction survey without meeting personally. It’s fast and delivers instant results. It’s the human resources best practice to understand employees and their problems. That way, it will help in retaining valuable employees.

Background Check Of The Departing Employee

A background check of the leaving employee helps you conduct exit interviews efficiently. It’s not intrusive behavior if you’re thinking that way. Instead, it allows the interviewer to prepare well and ask proper questions. One of the vital factors in reviewing background checks is to know the purpose of leaving the company. Maybe the employee faced discrimination or was not getting along well with their colleagues. There would be many reasons. Being prepared will allow them to ask questions that let employees express their true feelings. It also prevents you from asking questions that would trigger or hurt them. In short, you can create a safe space for the employee to answer honestly.

Four Best Exit Interview Benefits

Reducing Turnover Costs

By conducting exit interviews, employers find data on why employees leave their company. They will make changes to expedite employee retention rates by analyzing these data. High retention will help reduce employee turnover, which incurs massive expenses.

Makes Recruitment Easier

Exit interviews help employers to attract talent. Now that you know what attracts an employee, you will create a new proposition accordingly.

Proper Closure

Admit it, we all have a vendetta with our supervisors or the company. Leaving on a bad term is a losing case for both parties. Conducting exit interviews allows both parties to acknowledge each other and clarify the issues. It ultimately leads to a proper closure. It’s like a romantic relationship. Unless there is a closure from both ends, grudges remain forever.

Avoids Legal Issues

A terminated employee may come up with legal rights or issues. However, conducting exit interviews clears the potential lawsuit. It also helps the company maintain secret trade practices, which the departing employee has to keep. If revealed, they are made aware of the legal problems.


In conclusion, exit interviews are vital to an organization and an essential HR tool. Goodbyes can be sad, but in this case, it’s a wealth of opportunities. As the saying goes, ‘Sharing is caring’. If you have someone who may benefit from this post, please share this post or send a link.

Written by
Bill Achola
Owner of HRLoom & an HR expert from HRLOOM
Bill Achola is the owner of HRLoom and an HR expert deeply dedicated to supporting startups and small business owners in navigating the world of performance management, employee relations, and the development of employee handbooks.

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