We wrapped up our Great Place to Work series recently with the always-insightful Tom Erb. In his webinar on Maximizing Employee Retention in a Highly Competitive Labor Market, the staffing guru shared tips for conducting more productive exit interviews.
How can you make the most of an exit interview with an employee who’s moving on from your organization? Here’s what not to do.
“Don’t begin by asking why they are leaving,” says Erb. “If you start off with the negative, they may be more hesitant to share with you.”
Instead, Erb suggests simple questions to begin with, such as:
- What did you like about the position?
- What was your reason for choosing the job?
- Is there something that would cause you to stay if things were different?
You want to make your interviewees comfortable, and take care to listen well. “If they start talking about something that’s a little uncomfortable or gives some insight into why they’re leaving, don’t let that go,” says Erb. “Remember that where you find things out is not in the initial answer—but in the answers to follow-up questions. So ask those follow-up questions.”
*Bonus tip* Exit interviews are invaluable if you feel there are aspects of your organizational culture that are causing people to leave. “Look for patterns,” recommends Erb, “and share them with leadership.”
Data can be hard to pull out of an interview, but it isn’t all about numbers.. “Quotes from interviewees are data, too,” says Erb. Consider aggregating quotes from multiple interviews and generate word clouds. You may be surprised (or not) to see certain themes popping up.
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