When asking colleagues about their experience with exit interviews, we were surprised at how seldom companies would conduct them. Many organizations still believe that it’s not worth their time to interview the people that are leaving.

After all, what is the point in talking to the person who has already made the decision to quit? This viewpoint is common if the existing feedback culture is already good enough. However, if you don't invest this one additional hour, you may miss out on some valuable information and have to invest many more hours later on… while hiring!

We do, however, have to make a distinction between someone quitting and being fired. When someone leaves of their own volition, an exit interview should be mandatory. But when someone is fired, consider skipping it since the person might not be as open to discussing their feelings or could feel like you are making a difficult situation worse.

Valuable information

When your company has a culture based on feedback, chances are you won't learn anything new and the exit interview will be similar to other feedback moments. If you don’t have other moments to learn about how the company can improve, this is a great chance to level up.

Several well-formed questions can unravel any issues with the company's salary, benefits program, or problematic technology choices. You can also learn about the new company and develop a competitive benchmark, complete with their benefits and compensation plans.

You can also use skip-level exit interviews to determine how well middle management is performing or to gather additional information about the functioning of a specific team. Many people quit because they don’t like their direct manager. By performing this interview, you can learn more about how workers perceive their direct boss.

One of the main benefits is discovering hidden issues and understanding where your company is lagging. How often do people leave for the same reason? And how easily can this be fixed? When the interview is well prepared, it will enable you to uncover hidden issues and anticipate or prevent an emerging flow of exits.

Maintain the relationship

During an exit interview, the barrier of discussing difficult topics is reduced and, often, the employee will talk more freely. If you receive new information, take it to heart. The feedback needs to reach the people who have the power to change the situation. Although your soon-to-be-ex-colleague will not benefit from changes, it could prevent other team members from leaving.

Exit interviews also provide a genuine feeling that the employee’s effort and input is valued. It provides the person leaving with the sincere impression that they are being heard. It is an opportunity to show the employee that you care about their mental state and want to end on a positive note.

This also prevents you from burning bridges or obstructing the possibility of the employee returning to the company. And you’ll never know if that’s a possibility unless you end with an exit interview.