The Truth About Exit Interviews

A common myth is that exit interviews simply capture the feelings of disgruntled employees. The truth is that former employees have valuable information to share to help improve workplace conditions. Exit interviews can provide valuable insights into your company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as areas for improvement.

The problem is companies simply fail to do exit interviews properly. A Harvard Business Review study shows the following breakdown of who is responsible for the process:

  • 71% HR department
  • 19% direct supervisor
  • 9% supervisor’s manager
  • 1% external consultants


This discovery is quite astonishing since typically departing employees avoid speaking candidly to a supervisor if their departure is attributed to the supervisor. However, it’s intriguing that one in five companies permits supervisors to lead this crucial conversation. Such practice overlooks the genuine opportunity an exit interview holds to enact substantial enhancements.

Here are four tips to make them more effective:

1. Create a Safe and Confidential Environment: 55% of workers strongly (21%) or somewhat (34%) agreed that their employer thinks their workplace environment is a lot mentally healthier than it actually is, and this could lead to departing employees not sharing critical information that could help the company do better. To address this concern, companies should assure departing employees that their responses will remain confidential and will not affect their future prospects. This assurance fosters openness, encouraging honest feedback that is essential for identifying areas in need of improvement.

2. Ask the Right Questions: Develop a comprehensive set of structured questions that cover every facet of the employee experience, including reasons for leaving, job satisfaction, team dynamics, management effectiveness, company culture, and suggestions for improvement. Tailor these questions to align with your company’s specific needs and objectives. By doing so, you will ensure that all perspectives are included, bias is minimized, and objectivity is upheld throughout the entire conversation.

3. Act on Feedback & Develop a Policy: Incorporating an exit interview policy into your personnel guidelines facilitates valuable information exchange from departing employees. When employees are aware that the company consistently conducts exit interviews, they are not caught off guard when one is scheduled. Instead, they are more likely to be ready to offer their insights and may even come with pertinent questions about their experiences. Review the feedback from exit interviews to pinpoint common themes or issues. For instance, if several employees mention insufficient career development opportunities as a reason for leaving, it might be time to overhaul your professional development programs.

Below is a sample of an Exit Interview Data Analysis Process:

Implementing these strategies will transform exit interviews into a powerful resource for obtaining actionable insights, driving meaningful improvements in employee satisfaction, and significantly boosting retention rates within your organization.