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Purpose & Importance Of Exit Interviews [10 Reasons To Conduct Them]

Mar 16, 2020
Deb Muller

Exit interviews are important because they offer a deeper look at your workplace culture, day-to-day processes, management solutions, and employee morale. The purpose of an exit interview is to assess the overall employee experience within your organization and identify opportunities to improve retention and engagement.


Having a clear set of standards in place when conducting exit interviews can also play an essential role in risk management. When employee issues are addressed justly and effectively within the workplace, there is no need for external investigations, litigation, or bad publicity to follow.

When completed in a consistent and standardized way, these interviews can help you foster positive relationships and a welcoming working environment. If you aren’t already completing exit interviews, their purpose can bring a lot of value to your company.

Tips for Conducting a Successful Exit Interview

Considering the importance of exit interviews, it’s critical to conduct them in the most effective manner. For example, many experts say it’s best to wait until after the employee has already left. This is because the individual will be more relaxed and honest about any issues he or she experienced. In terms of the method, most employers prefer face-to-face over phone interviews, although follow-ups over the phone can be an effective supplement to the in-person talk. When conducting the interview itself, it’s important for the interviewer to allow the outgoing employee to speak his or her mind and avoid trying to dominate the conversation. This will ensure employers get the most candid and useful information.

10 Reasons Why Exit Interviews Are Important

We’ve compiled a list of 10 reasons highlighting the importance of exit interviews to help your organization get the data and insights needed to create a more positive work environment and to protect your organization from risk.

  1. Departing employees are generally more forthcoming than those still in their jobs
  2. You will learn the reason for an employee’s departure (it may be different than you think!)
  3. The exit interview allows the employee to provide constructive feedback and leave on a positive note
  4. That last touchpoint provides you with an opportunity to review continuing obligations with the employee (e.g., non-competes, intellectual property agreements, etc.)
  5. It provides the opportunity to ask if there are any open issues of which you need to be aware. This can help reduce risk and identify matters that may require immediate attention.
  6. You will get a candid assessment of your organization’s environment and culture
  7. Insight into recruiting, on-boarding, and training needs may be revealed
  8. The feedback will help you to identify areas that can help improve staff retention
  9. Improvement opportunities in management development and succession planning can be detected
  10. It’s cost-effective to facilitate quality exit interviews

No matter the size of your company, exit interviews provide an opportunity for an employee to discuss the workplace environment, concerns about misconduct, or issues within management.

Learn how employees feel about how management teams handle issues in the workplace and what bearing that has on whether they stay or leave the organization.

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How to Use Data from Exit Interviews

While these interviews can bring incredible value to your company, they need to be executed in the proper way to provide useful insights. Over 90% of Fortune 500 companies conduct exit interviews, yet just over 40% of them view the practice itself as successful.

Reaping the benefits that go hand-in-hand with conducting exit interviews all starts with asking relevant questions specific to the employee’s role. An essential next step is understanding how to analyze and interpret the answers to improve your employee relations and workplace environment.

When it comes to exit interviews, their importance cannot be overstated. Creating and implementing more effective and consistent interviews can seem challenging and time-consuming at first, but the insights you will gain from understanding the connection between employee feedback, behavior, and organizational trends will tell you everything you need to know to grow your business tenfold.

Deb Muller
Deb Muller is the CEO of HR Acuity, employee relations case management and investigations software that combines documentation, process, and human expertise so organizations can meet the challenge of managing employee relations in the modern world.

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