Some of my favorite subjects on leadership are the ones that challenge common sense. I don’t like to argue, but I do enjoy the great conversations that come from challenging traditional rules. So after a long Labor Day weekend, I’ve decided to challenge some of my HR friends with the topic of exit interviews.
In short, I don’t get why companies do them.
Now I understand the politics behind them. I get why we do them for HR reasons. After all, I used to be in the staffing industry. I know that an exit interview allows the company to find out why a person is leaving. I know that the hope is that the interview will shed some light on how the company can improve working conditions or help supervisors who could benefit from the exit interview results.
I recognize the theory behind an exit interview is that someone who’s leaving your company will speak more freely about their experience while working there.
But here’s my question and challenge for every leader: Why do we wait until a person leaves to gain valuable insight into what would have made them stay?
Helloooo? Is anyone else with me on this?
Why not ask employees these questions before they leave? If answers to exit interview questions provide valuable insights after employees leave, wouldn’t the insights be more valuable while the employees are still with your organization?
Think about it. If we knew the answers to the exit interview questions before a person exited, it would not only help us lead this person better, but it would also help us create an environment where employees are more engaged and open to sharing their thoughts on how we can improve as a company.
The standard exit interview questions are great questions! I just think they should be asked before the employee exits.
See the table below. The questions on the left are traditional exit interview questions. The questions on the right are the same questions, but tweaked. These questions are appropriate to ask while an employee is still working at your company.
|Exit Interview Questions:
|Employee Engagement Questions:
|What is your primary reason for leaving?
|What would cause you to ever leave our organization?
|What was most satisfying about your job?
|What is most satisfying about your job?
|What was least satisfying about your job?
|What is least satisfying about your job?
|What would you have changed about your job?
|What would you change about your job and why?
|Did you receive enough training to do your job effectively?
|What type of training would you like to receive that would help you be more productive?
|Did you receive sufficient feedback about your performance between merit reviews?
|How can we communicate honest & relevant feedback about your performance more often?
|Did this company help you fulfill your career goals?
|What are your career goals and how can we help you meet those?
|Do you have any tips to help us find your replacement?
|If we were to ever replace you, what type of person should we recruit?
|What would you improve to make our workplace better?
|How can we make our workplace better?
|Were you happy with your pay, benefits and other incentives?
|What are your salary goals?
|What was the quality of the supervision you received?
|How can I be a better leader for you?
|What could your immediate supervisor do to improve his or her management style?
|What do you see as areas of improvement for the leadership of this company?
|Did any company policies or procedures (or any other obstacles) make your job more difficult?
|What company policies or procedures make your job more difficult?
|Would you consider working for this company again in the future?
|Do you see yourself with this company long-term? Why or why not?
|Would you recommend working for this company to your family and friends?
|Would you recommend this company to your family or friends?
|What did you like most about this company?
|What do you like most about our company?
|What did you like least about this company?
|What do you like least about our company?
|Can this company do anything to encourage you to stay?
|Can this company do anything to encourage you to be more committed?
Let’s challenge ourselves to ask these exit interview questions while a person is still an employee. As leaders, it is our responsibility to create a culture that not only cares about an employee’s answers to these questions but also uses them to make necessary improvements.