How to Approach an ‘Exit Interview’: A Guide for Managers

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

An exit interview is an important process for any organisation. It serves as a way to gain feedback from employees who are leaving, and this can be invaluable in helping to improve the working environment. This article will provide advice on how to approach an exit interview in order to make sure that it is as productive and beneficial as possible.

What is an Exit Interview?

An exit interview is a conversation between an organisation and an employee who is leaving their job. The aim of the interview is to find out why they are leaving, what they enjoyed about their job and what they may have found challenging or difficult – all of which could help the employer understand how to improve the workplace for remaining staff members. In some cases, these interviews may also be used by HR departments in order to assess whether there have been any issues with the management team or other aspects of employment that should be addressed.

Why do Exit Interviews Matter?

Exit interviews are not just useful for gaining insights into why someone has decided to leave; they can also provide valuable information about ways in which employers can improve the working experience for their current and future employees. By finding out what changes could have been made or what could have been done differently, employers can ensure that their workplace remains attractive and appealing both now and in the future. Additionally, exit interviews can serve as a way of gathering data on overall employee satisfaction levels – something which may influence decisions regarding pay rises, bonuses or other benefits offered by businesses.

Preparing for an Exit Interview

To ensure that an exit interview runs smoothly and effectively, it’s important to prepare beforehand. Firstly, you should decide who will conduct the interview; this should ideally be someone who was part of the employee’s team during their time with your organisation (such as a manager or supervisor), although it could also be carried out by someone from HR if necessary. Once you’ve decided who will conduct the interview, you should then create a list of questions that will be asked – this should include open-ended questions that allow former employees to share their thoughts freely without feeling overly pressured or uncomfortable (for example “What do you think we could have done better during your time here?”). Additionally, consider setting aside some time afterwards for informal discussion if you feel it would be appropriate – this provides another opportunity for former employees to express themselves without being confined by specific questions.

If you’re anxious about the Exit Interview, you might want to consider doing some form of meditation to calm your nerves. Or you could try taking a walk to stabilise your mood and gain some perspective. As managers/leaders, the expectation is that we are stoic and all-powerful, but we are human beings and will feel genuine human emotions at times like this.

exit interview

Conducting an Exit Interview

When conducting a successful exit interview there are several key things that need to be kept in mind:

  • Have an agenda – it’s important to have an agenda so that you don’t miss anything important in the meeting. It need only be a few bullet points – whatever it takes to guide your meeting to completion.
  • Make sure you create a comfortable atmosphere – try not to put too much pressure on former employees by asking them direct questions such as “Why did you decide to leave?” Instead try creating more relaxed conversations where they feel able share more freely whilst still providing valuable insights into their experiences with your business.
  • Listen actively – whilst conducting an exit interview it’s essential that you listen carefully when people are speaking rather than simply waiting until they finish so that you can ask another question. Showing genuine interest in what people say helps build trust between interviewer and subject – this means people may feel more comfortable sharing honest answers instead of simply giving responses they think might please you most.
  • Try not take anything personally – even if former employees express negative opinions about certain aspects of working within your organisation (such as management style) remember not take anything said personally; instead use these comments constructively so that improvements can be made going forward.
  • Follow up afterwards – once all interviews have been conducted don’t forget follow up with participants afterwards either via email or telephone call; this allows them know that their opinions were valued despite no longer being employed at your business (this small gesture often goes long way!).


Exit interviews are essential tools when it comes understanding why employees choose leave organisations; however conducting them successfully requires careful preparation thought beforehand! By following advice outlined above (such creating comfortable atmosphere listening actively taking nothing said personally etc.) employers can ensure maximum benefit gained from each session making sure information gathered helps inform workplace improvement initiatives going forward!

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