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Conducting a Productive Exit Interview

An organization can sometimes overlook the exit interview. However, if administered effectively, exit interviews can shed light on ways for organizational improvements, such as increasing employee engagement and satisfaction or decreasing turnover rate.

Here are some best practices to consider on how to conduct a productive exit interview:

Preparation for Exit Interview:

  • Set a clear understanding of the goal of an exit interview. The goal is not only to allow employees to ask any lingering administrative questions (COBRA etc.) but also to enable employees to share any feedback they have regarding the job and the organization.

  • Decide whether the format will be a one-on-one discussion or an online survey (or both).

    • Several factors may affect why an organization would choose one over the other, such as the size or the turnover rate. For example, organizations with a high turnover rate may want to consider using an online survey to save time and labor.

    • For one-on-one discussions, it is best to share the exit interview questions ahead of time so employees are prepared to answer the questions or bring in additional thoughts.

  • Creating a list of questions to ask may be daunting; here are some questions that you may want to start with:

    • What made you want to work here?

    • How did you feel about working here?

    • Tell us why you decided to leave if you're comfortable doing so.

    • If you could change anything about this company, what would that be?

  • Assign the interviewer role to someone other than the employee’s direct supervisor (e.g. HR) to make one feel comfortable opening up for discussion.

During the Exit Interview:

  • Ask open-ended questions and let employees speak as much as possible while the interviewer asks follow-up questions to probe for more insights.

  • Design organization-specific questions to evaluate the effectiveness of certain programs and ask for feedback for improvement.

  • Reassure the confidentiality of the conversations but inform that documentation is needed.

After the Exit Interview:

  • Identify if there are any consistent trends and share the findings with the leadership team.

  • Utilize the key takeaways derived from the results of the exit interviews to guide strategic planning, such as improving the onboarding process, benefits offerings, recruiting efforts, etc.

Even though the exit interview is primarily for those who are leaving the organization, the organization can still draw useful insights from this process to evaluate or even improve their current operations.

Please reach out to Kiwi Partners’ HR Services team if your nonprofit needs an HR consultant to help designing your exit interview procedure.


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