How to Have Useful Exit Interviews

By Jennifer Heavysege June 2, 2017 at 7:15pm

One thing is certain in today's competitive IT hiring environment: Some of your employees will leave. While you never want to lose team members, conducting an exit interview with a departing IT pro can help you prevent further employee turnover. 

A survey by Robert Half Technology shows two-thirds (67 per cent) of CIOs interviewed are worried about staff retention over the next 12 months, and nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of technology executives said losing a highly skilled team member without notice would have a somewhat adverse impact on their business.

Why IT pros leave

IT executives in the survey said the top causes of employee turnover were limited opportunities for career growth, job boredom and inadequate compensation and benefits.

Whatever the reason is for an employee leaving, it's never easy to lose good people. However, it is an opportunity to conduct an exit interview and listen to what that soon-to-be former employee has to say. As long as the feedback is professional and the exiting employee offers their genuine reasons for leaving, exit interviews can be extremely useful. By asking tough questions and, more importantly, listening to the answers with an open mind, you can start shoring up your business's areas of vulnerability.

Is your top employee leaving? Here are the warning signs.

Information from an exit interview can answer questions including: Should you review your compensation plans? Are your career paths well defined and communicated effectively to the staff? Should you implement alternative work options such as work from home or flexible schedules? Whatever the issues brought up during the exit interview, have you genuinely considered whether or not they would benefit the organization and employees?

Exit interview tips

If you do decide to conduct an exit interview, here are four ways to get the most out of them:

  1. Keep them brief and to the point. Discuss the reasons why the person decided to leave and ask for recommendations or feedback on what would have retained them (if possible). 
  2. Remove emotion from the conversation. There is nothing gained by bringing emotion into the conversation — keep it all business. If the employee leaving points to a manager or other team member as the reason they are departing, try to get them to focus on facts and examples, not feelings. 
  3. Leave the door open. Many times the grass is not greener on the other side and good employees genuinely regret leaving. Leave the door open to their future return. I personally know of many very successful people who returned to their previous employer after a short stint away — more committed and genuinely appreciative (now) of the company — after having experienced other environments.
  4. Request mutual discretion. No one benefits from bashing the other. Don’t disparage departing employees to your staff and request that they don’t disparage you or your firm with your remaining employees.

Exit interviews can be painful discussions. Listening to someone tell you why they decided another firm had a better opportunity is not always an easy thing to hear. However, when used as a learning opportunity, you can identify areas of improvement that may reduce the chance of additional departures.

Need to Hire an IT Pro? We Can Help.

Temporary staff alleviates staffing gaps when employees leave

More resources:

Companies Making the Most of Feedback from Exit Interviews
12 Ways Bad Managers Cause Good Employees to Leave
Improving Employee Retention: 6 Ways to Keep Your Staff Happy

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