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successful exit interview

How to Have a Successful Exit Interview

You know why you’ve hired someone. But why does that person leave your business? Unless you’ve laid them off, you may be left clueless. 

Enter the exit interview—that final face-to-face meeting with a departing employee. The valuable information they provide can improve your business, allowing you to retain current employees and attract quality workers for future job openings.

  • Make it voluntary. Don’t put pressure on the person to participate in the meeting, but position it as a positive learning experience for both sides. 
  • Keep it private. Choose a quiet place at your store, away from other employees and customers. 
  • Tread neutral ground. Whoever conducts the interview should be someone who’s gotten along well with the employee. 
  • Start out easy. Begin with small talk to make the person as comfortable as possible. 
  • Welcome honesty. Encourage the person to share their true feelings and reasons for leaving, and assure them there will be no negative consequences.
  • Listen actively. Let the person do most of the talking, and remain open and nonjudgmental so they’re more apt to reveal.  
  • Be respectful. Honor the employee’s willingness to tell as much as they’re comfortable sharing. 
  • Take notes. Assure the employee that your notes will be added to those of other employees, to examine overall trends.
  • Avoid conflict. If you disagree with something the person says, tell them so, but don’t be defensive or aggressive.
  • Tie up loose ends. Get back any keys, equipment, tools or documents that belong to your company. 
  • Say goodbye gracefully. It is acceptable to express disappointment, but don’t try to talk the person out of leaving.

View the exit interview as a catalyst for positive change for your business. No employer wants to lose a valuable employee, but with that loss you gain insight into your business that may keep other employees from also saying goodbye.

About Carly Froderman

Carly Froderman
Carly joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor. Born and raised in Indiana, Carly earned a B.A. in English from Indiana University Bloomington. She enjoys reading, hiking, and cheering on the Indiana Hoosiers.

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