How to manage employee exit interviews?

Now that the important ‘whys’ of instituting a planned exit process are covered (in the previous post), I’d like to share my views on the process itself:

Short internal (online) process:  An online questionnaire on the company intranet or via email should capture feedback on the overall experience, and this segment of the exit process should be focussed on the transfer of knowledge on networks created and tools used for work efficacy. An online process would ensure openness and accuracy of such feedback.

Face to face interview with the successor:  Based on the questionnaire, the identified successor or another team member should probe further on the information provided by the candidate so it’s complete and usable.

3rd party management: A feedback interface should be handled by a 3rd party service provider where the focus of the interview should be on getting inputs on : the overall work experience with the company; interaction with colleagues and management; performance management system; any challenges faced; work-life balance;  suggestions on improving processes or work environment, and, very importantly, on possibilities of returning to the company at a later date. This is in recognition of the time and training invested in the individual, and an experienced candidate being a much better option for a company than a newly recruited one.

Confidentiality of feedback: It’s imperative that confidentiality of candidate identity is maintained by the 3rd party interviewer to ensure the candidate openness in providing feedback and for these inputs to truly aid policy reforms, if any warranted.

Phone versus face to face interviews: Phone interviewing can be fairly effective with the genre of people who’re comfortable using the phone—which is to say all executives, managerial or technical people.

Structured interview:  It is necessary for the 3rd party interview process to be structured so it attempts to collect inputs against the given variables for analysis over a period.

Empathy and respect: There is much awkwardness in the atmosphere where an exiting employee could be feeling hurt or supervising managers somewhat angry but it’s necessary that feelings are appreciated and respect accorded by both sides. This also applies to the approach of the 3rd party interviewer who mustn’t just see her role as that of the company appointed executor of a process. She must be friendly and respectful to the exiting employee as much as, if not more, she is with the company HR team.

Listen, rephrase and listen some more:  Many candidates entrust faith in the process of feedback and share lots on their experience, some of which could even be peripheral to the company’s needs for information from them, but it sure helps that an interviewer listens carefully, rephrases some critical inputs at some juncture to secure further trust and, therefore, truthful feedback.

Suggestions on improvements: An experienced employee leaving would have pertinent suggestions on gaps in policies and how they might be bridged. It’s necessary to get those suggestions and consider them to make this process truly helpful for the employer.

Taking notes: If interviewers feel that they would simply remember what a candidate is sharing, then they aren’t doing justice to the process of obtaining feedback. Taking notes through the interview is essential to maintain sanctity of inputs.

Share quantitative and qualitative data: So much of the exit interviewing process, in the end, is dependent on what is done with the collected data; it’s absolutely necessary to analyse it over short and long periods to detect trends and consider a relationship between various variables to have a deeper understanding of reasons of attrition. Qualitative data remains important too, and, as far as possible, should be passed along verbatim while withholding candidate identity.

Do let me know if any aspect of exit interviewing has remained uncovered from my thoughts.

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