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Exit Interviews – An Important Part of the Employee Journey

26 October, 2023

The exit interview, also known as the departure interview, is one of the final steps in the employee journey – but no less important for that. In this article, we’ve gathered all you need to know about how exit interviews benefit you as an employer and how they can enhance the employee experience.

Time to say goodbye and good luck with the new job? Keys are returned, mobile phone subscriptions are canceled, and a replacement is trained. A proper farewell with coffee and flowers is also a given. However, one item on the checklist often gets overlooked or, in the worst case, forgotten altogether – we’re talking about exit interviews.

So, what does an exit interview entail, more specifically? And why is it worth dedicating time and effort to it? In short, an exit interview is the part of the offboarding process where you collect feedback from the departing employee. By asking questions about why the employee is leaving and how they’ve experienced their tasks, work environment, and workload, you can gain valuable insights into your strengths and weaknesses as an employer. This information can ultimately help you develop your operations and reduce turnover.

Conducting exit interviews can also contribute to strengthening your company’s employer brand. Here, you have an excellent opportunity to find out what attracts new employees, what makes them stay, and, perhaps most importantly, what drives them to leave. Indeed, this is vital information you can use to enhance and improve your employer brand. Moreover, as an employer, you demonstrate genuine interest in the employee’s experiences, which can turn them into a positive ambassador for your company.

Here, you can read our top tips on how to conduct a highly professional offboarding process.

How an Exit Interview Works

For both the interviewer and the interviewee, exit interviews are often seen as a positive way to conclude the employee’s tenure before they embark on new and exciting job adventures. However, in some cases, these discussions can be more challenging. Firstly, they may touch on sensitive topics; secondly, the employee may fear being candid about their thoughts and feelings. Employees who are leaving and avoid providing negative feedback usually come from a fear of receiving poor references or keeping their options open for potential rehiring.

For this reason, it’s advisable to carefully consider who should perform the exit interview – it’s not always ideal for the immediate supervisor to handle it. Perhaps an HR manager or someone from the HR department could be a better fit? Another option is to divide the exit interview into two parts, with the immediate supervisor handling one part and someone from HR managing the other – all to gain a broader perspective on the employee’s experience. A third alternative is to involve an external, neutral party to conduct the exit interview.

Getting the Most Out of Exit Interviews – 5 Tips

Start with the end in mind
Before you begin, ensure you know your exit interviews’ purpose. Why are you conducting them? How will you follow up on the results? And, most importantly – how can you use the insights to grow as an employer?

Clearly communicate the purpose of the exit interview
It’s not just the interviewer who needs to be clear on the goal – the departing employee should also understand why the interview is being conducted. If it’s clear that you’re doing the interview to improve as an employer, the employee is more likely to share constructive feedback.

Adapt the format
The approach to conducting exit interviews may vary depending on the interviewee. For instance, not everyone is comfortable sitting in a meeting and answering questions. Some people may provide more comprehensive responses by filling out a digital questionnaire.

Ask open-ended questions
Did you enjoy your job tasks? Yes. Do you think the work environment is good? Yes. Did the job meet your expectations? Yes. Undeniably, closed-ended questions (yes-and-no questions) provide little substance for evaluation. Instead, work with open-ended questions, allowing the interviewee to describe their experience in their own words. Ledarna has two interview guides (in Swedish) with open-ended questions, one for immediate supervisors and one for HR.

Make the most of the final days
Lastly, remember that the employee’s final days with the company are crucial for you and them. Make the most of this period and ensure the departing employee isn’t forgotten as the end approaches! A positive and well-planned conclusion, where things don’t fall through the cracks, benefits both you as an employer and the colleague leaving. It’s all about thoughtful offboarding!

How Smart Tools Can Facilitate Every Phase of the Employee Journey

Preboarding, onboarding, crossboarding, offboarding, and reboarding – yes, there are many different phases in the employee lifecycle. In our HR system, Flex HRM Employee, we’ve gathered all the system support you need to support your employees, regardless of the phase they’re in. Here, you’ll benefit from digital checklists, and reminders pushed to the responsible parties when tasks are to be completed – eliminating manual data entry, endless email threads, and complicated spreadsheets. You can even create templates for both employee interviews and exit interviews directly within the interface, providing a clear overview of which employees have had which interviews and when. Easy to keep track of how things are progressing! Want to learn more about Flex HRM Employee? Feel free to reach out to us!

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