The Importance of the Exit Interview

It’s pretty obvious that we need to conduct an interview before we hire a new employee, but what are we supposed to do once an old employee gives notice that he’s ready to move on to a new employer? Should we sit back, wait until his last day, go out for cocktails, and wave goodbye?

Probably not.

If you are a proactive manager you’ll conduct what is known as an exit interview sometime during that employee’s last day or week. There are several reasons for conducting an exit interview.

First of all, your employee may or may not have told the truth when he initially gave you his reasons for leaving. He may have been upset about something going on within the company or department but feared telling you would make his last days miserable. People on their way out the door are usually less fearful and are more likely to give you honest answers.

Second, if you like the employee the exit interview is the perfect opportunity to express your happiness with his job performance. Make sure he knows that if he would like to come back there will be room for him (if there is a job position, of course).

The exit interview goes far in encouraging a positive image of the organisation as well. If you have a positive interview the employee will be less likely to leave on a sour note and will, hopefully, say good things about the company instead of complaining about it to people he meets later on.

During the exit interview you may find that there are issues within your department or the organisation as a whole that need addressing. While it’s preferable that an employee feel safe enough to share these concerns during the course of his employment, it’s nice to find out about these issues before things get worse. Use the information you gather to determine whether or not any sort of corrective action is necessary.

Finally, perhaps during the course of employment you realised that this particular employee may not have been the best fit for your team. Use the exit interview to gather more information about his personality, what he thought of his job, and his work values. This information will make it easier to identify similar personalities in future employment interviews.

Understanding an employees job skills and values is important on the way in the door, but knowing his true feelings on the way out is just as important. Take the time to get to know each and every member of your team and, hopefully, you won’t NEED to conduct too many exit interviews!

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   

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Updated on: 5 March, 2009

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