Exit interviews can uncover a wealth of useful information about your organization's real working environment. These interviews help pull together loose ends with departing employees and, in some cases, may even identify smoldering problems. The exit interview also serves as a final opportunity to address misunderstandings and defuse potential legal actions.


The proper exit interview formula is actually pretty straightforward, and includes a shorter list of do's and don'ts than many other HR practices. The simple guidelines outlined below will help you conduct effective exit interviews.


 

Interview Overview


First, it's important to understand exactly what an exit interview is -- and what it isn't. An exit interview should not be confused with the meeting at which notice of termination is given. Rather, it is a meeting conducted after the termination decision, whether voluntary or involuntary, has been made and communicated.


Exit interviews are intended to help management determine the actual reason behind a voluntary termination, explain any conversion or continuation of benefits, minimize misunderstandings and resentment caused by involuntary terminations, and complete administrative details. The interview also helps you evaluate overall policies and procedures by providing feedback about the organization and its practices. Ideally, it is conducted a day or two before the employee's final separation.

 

Questions to Ask the Employee


Effective exit interviews should be structured to ensure that all the important issues are covered and, typically, include both specific and open-ended questions. This format enables the interviewer to collect job-related details along with more general feedback and opinions. The
questions you include will vary depending on the type of information you want. However, exit interviews usually include certain standard lines of questioning (with appropriate follow-up questions based on the employee's responses).


As a general rule, a neutral party, such as a member of your HR department or another member of management, should conduct the interview. In any case, the interviewer should be trained to elicit and analyze responses and also should be familiar with the employee's personnel history and the responsibilities of the position.


In addition, many experts believe that the employee's supervisor should not be present during an exit interview, so as not to inhibit the conversation. The goal is to create an atmosphere that encourages the expression of forthright opinions about the organization, its management
practices, and the job itself.


 

Questions Commonly Asked Include:


1.             Why are you leaving? (If the termination is voluntary.)


2.             Are there any changes or improvements that would have prevented you from leaving?

                (Again, if the termination is voluntary.)

3.             What did you like most about working for this organization?



4.             What did you like least?


5.             How would you evaluate the performance of your supervisor?


6.             Did you feel the organization provided sufficient training, opportunities for advancement,   benefits, etc.?


7.             Do you have any suggestions for ways to make the work more pleasant and productive?


Finally, if any ill feelings or misunderstandings are uncovered, the interviewer should attempt to defuse them.

 

 

Administrative Issues to Cover


To address the exit process, the interviewer should:


1.             Explain any group insurance conversion or continuation benefits (COBRA rights, if                applicable) and any other vested benefits available to the employee.


2.             Obtain the employee's correct address for mailing the IRS Form W-2 and the correct             mailing addresses of the employee's spouse, or former spouse, and any dependents who      are eligible to continue health care benefits.


3.             Determine the employee's availability for future employment, if still eligible.


4.             Explain the organization's policy on providing employment references.


5.             Provide a list of employer property to be returned and a process to record its return.


6.             Remind the employee to remove all personal belongings.


7.             Review with the employee the terms of any agreements covering competitive activities or     disclosure of confidential information.


 

Make Use of Exit Information


To benefit fully from the exit information generated, you need to make sure you take several basic steps:

1.             Keep track of the information so you can analyze trends, such as high turnover in certain     departments, recurring references to a lack of advancement opportunities, or repeated             problems with a specific individual.


2.             Communicate employee feedback to those who can use it to analyze and correct any            problems.

3.             Follow up on any information that points to inappropriate or unacceptable behavior, such   as allegations of harassment, discrimination, or poor management.


 


Good exit interviews not only take care of necessary administrative details but also facilitate proper closure to the formal employment relationship and generate valuable feedback. This feedback, both positive and negative, gives you the input you need to reinforce successes and correct problems before they get out of control.


Source: HR Matters E-Tips

 

Reprinted with permission from HR Matters E-tips, copyright Personnel Policy Service, Inc., Louisville, KY, all rights reserved, the HR Policy and Employment Law Compliance Experts for over 30 years, 1-800-437-3735, sign up for your free E-tips subscription at http://www.ppspublishers.com/hrmetips.htm.  This article is not intended as legal advice.  Readers are encouraged to seek appropriate legal or professional advice.

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