interviews have become routine in organisations before final
departure of employees. But ask them "why?" and most prefer
a studied silence. Several organisations are conducting them as a
matter of course without bothering about the inferences to be drawn
from an analysis of such interviews. Are they really necessary in a
sector which has one of the highest rates of attrition? Do exit
interviews give an insight into the problem? Or are we knocking on
the wrong door for the right answers and are therefore, still
Employees leave an organisation for various reasons.
But the ones leaving voluntarily, following office protocol, will
have valuable information which can be used as a resource to compile
data about the organisation. If you want your organisationâ€™s true
picture through the eyes of your employees, then exit interviews are
an invaluable management tool. The answers provided in exit
interviews can be the basis for formulating a draft policy for
employee retention. Since the feedback on the organisation is from
exiting employee, they are expected to be genuine and unbiased.
Typically, an exit interview is a meeting between a senior
executive from the company (preferably human resources (HR)
department) and the exiting employee. It's easier to fight the enemy
if you know where to hit. And to fight the giant of 'attrition', exit
interviews can be used as the arrow to strike right at its Achilles'
heel. Exit interviews open doors to internal systems and workings
within the organisation that affect an employee's career in the
company. They provide an insight into the values that employees
attach to systems, processes and management of the organisation. Many
reforms in the appraisal systems, leave management, human resource
management and many other improvement initiatives can be taken on the
basis of exit feedback.
Sharing her opinion on exit
interviews, Surbhi Saxena, Senior Manager, Employee Relations, First
Advantage Offshore Services Private Limited said, "Exit
interviews are a cost-effective means of collecting data to not just
help in improving recruitment, selection, placement and training
practices, but also reduce employee turnover. These interviews help
in identifying poor practices in an organisation that can be then
eliminated or remedied." Most importantly they help in
minimising the risk of legal actions later, Saxena adds.
these interviews are generally conducted just before employees'
departure, they can disclose their feelings about the company without
the fear of repercussion. But Saxena believes, "A better time to
conduct such a meeting is while an employee is still committed and
not when he/she is on the way out. Ideally, at least a week before
Explaining the reasons for varied
employee turnover, Navin Joshua, Executive Director, vCustomer India
said, "Just as the motivating factor for each employee varies,
so does the factor resulting in the turnover of the employee.
However, exit interview feedback does help study of employee turnover
trend." But cautions Joshua, "To rely solely on feedback
would be foolhardy, for an employee on his way out may be biased and
judgmental about the company and its systems. The organisation should
spend an equal time gaining feedback from employees throughout their
association with the organisation."
Saxena too supports
the view and cautions, "With exit feedback you need a
reality-check so that it does not lead to a witch-hunt." Saxena
believes that these interviews can sometimes lead to character
assassination and may divert from the main goal of conducting such
interviews. The interview should be conducted professionally and as
far as possible steer away from personal grievances. Therefore,
though more stress should be laid on the right questions to ask, it
is equally important to know which questions are not to be asked."
The employees should be well informed about the process of
exit interviews. Although, legally an employee can refuse to give
this interview, if it is communicated well in advance within the
organisation that it is a standard procedure and all the exiting
employees are required to give it, it may not scare them away. Exit
interviews can also help in creating a positive environment, wherein
the employee may want to re-join at a later stage and would not
hesitate to do so.
Saxena stresses on some of the pitfalls to
be avoided while conducting these interviews, "Treat the exiting
employee with respect and ensure that he or she knows that there is
no penalty for speaking freely or otherwise." She adds, "Have
a trusted person to chair these meetings. The person conducting the
exit interview should be one with a good amount of individual
credibility and should avoid leading questions, questions on specific
issues or individuals. He should also be a good listener. The
interview should be properly timed." Last but not the least, she
adds, "It should project a good picture of the organisation to
the exiting employee and show it in a caring light."
organisations even hire a third party consultant or a behavioural
psychologist to make this process of conducting exit interviews more
effective and reliable. "According to a research, when a company
switched to a third party firm, it found less than 70 percent
correlation between what employees said during an internal company
exit interview vs when interviewed by a neutral third party,"
The interviews should be precise and the
questions relevant. Says Joshua, "The content of an interview
must be specific to an organisation's requirement. However, in
general, the interview should focus largely on systems, processes and
people's behaviour that directly affect the employees' day-to-day
working in the organisation."
After the interview, the
crucial part is to assimilate all the data in statistical format so
as to draw conclusions. The way in which this data is processed leads
to better inferences and concrete results. Says Saxena, "Try and
assimilate the data into various buckets. It should be presented as a
statistical model as opposed to getting into individual issues. Use
the result to generate trends that can show areas of repetitive
concern that need to be addressed."
To make it a better
experience for the employee and the employer, the environment or the
place where the interview is conducted should be informal and away
from the work area. The interviewer should be unbiased with a neutral
approach. Some companies even request employees for written feedback
for more specific and accurate record.
All in all, there is no
reason to deny the importance of exit interviews for the employer and
the employee both. If conducted properly, it can help the employer
ensure that no other employee leaves for similar reasons. It also
benefits the departing employee with constructive feedback and he can
leave on a positive note with hopes of returning in future, if so