Why You Need to Conduct Exit Interviews

Author: Kristina Proffitt

10th May 2018

Replacing a lost employee can cost as much as 21% of their salary. If their replacement isn’t happy or fails their probation period, that’s another 21% of their salary that you need to spend to replace them again. The more often you need to replace an employee, there is to spend on other things like training courses, mentorship, and other employee experiences.

Sometimes losing valuable employees is unavoidable. They move, they retire, they change careers. But sometimes you lose a great employee to your competitor. And that hurts. It damages your business, it damages your employer brand, and it can damage employee morale, particularly if that team member was a vital part of the team.

There is a way to avoid this, though. Conducting an exit interview gives you insights into why they left, helping you to retain current and future employees for longer.

Here are a few other reasons why you need to hold exit interviews.

It prevents job stagnation

According to Glassdoor, “Every additional 10 months an employee stagnates in a role makes them 1% more likely to leave the company when they finally move on to their next position.”

Holding an exit interview gives you a different perspective on employees’ roles. This helps to ensure that employees of all levels and abilities remain engaged and happy with what they’re doing.

Exit interviews help you and team leaders to map out clear progressions for employees so that whether they’ve been with the company five minutes or five years, they always have something to aim for.

Management issues are hard to spot

“More than half of all US employees have left a job to get away from their manager,” says Glassdoor. More than half.

Poor managers are responsible for poor-performing teams. Exit interviews allow you to notice patterns that otherwise may not have been picked up on. If there’s a slew of people leaving because of a particular manager, it may be time to sit down with the manager and discuss the issues employees have with them. Poor-performing managers can then use this feedback to learn and grow.

The only way negative company culture changes is if it’s confronted head-on, but it’s impossible to confront if you don’t know that it’s happening in the first place.

You can look for patterns

Sometimes employees leave because they’ve been offered a better payment package. If you’re paying below the average market rate, this will happen more frequently.

Smaller companies can’t always afford to pay as much as bigger companies, but money isn’t everything. An environment where employees feel valued and can take advantage of benefits such as flexible working hours can be as equally attractive as a higher pay check.

Exit interviews help you to notice patterns so that you can address issues and therefore retain employees for longer.

It shows you’re interested in improving

Exit interviews demonstrate to employees that the company takes feedback onboard and wants to improve. It can also help you to pick up on inconsistencies in job descriptions or employer branding – these are crucial to get right for happy employees. There are few things worse than applying for a job only to find that when you start it isn’t what was advertised. This happens all too often. It then decreases employee satisfaction and your churn rate goes up. That’s why it’s so important to know what your employees want and need from the role.

It strengthens communication

Communication is key at every stage of a business. Being open to feedback and listening to departing employees strengthens communication because it shows you’re open to listening. It allows you to celebrate your successes with other employees while learning from your failures before new candidates start the role.

How to conduct exit interviews

How to conduct a successful exit interview.

Ask similar questions

While some questions will be job-specific, asking similar questions makes it easier for you to identify patterns. Depending on if these patterns are good or bad, you can then adapt accordingly and pass the results on to people who can help to solve these issues.

Use the same person

Using the same person to conduct every exit interview makes it easier to pick up on patterns that may emerge. If this isn’t possible, make sure that there’s clear and open communication between the people conducting exit interviews so that they can share their findings. If they don’t, there will be less data to analyse and you’ll be less likely to notice any patterns.

Ask open questions

While using open questions can make it more difficult to quantify results, it will mean that you get the best quality answers from your departing employees. Closed questions make it more difficult for you to get in-depth answers from them, and may mean that you miss out on the real reason that they’re leaving.

Be open-minded

Being open-minded in an exit interview is crucial. The last thing you want is for the interviewer to lead the employee to answer questions in a certain way based on their biases about the company, the department, or their manager. Employees should lead the conversation so that they feel at ease enough to be open and honest. If they go off on too much of a tangent, the interviewer can gently guide them back to the topic without making them feel intimidated or overwhelmed.


To form a healthy, welcoming company culture, it’s important to conduct exit interviews. The insight you gain from exit interviews means that you can learn from previous mistakes to create a better employee experience and improve your employer brand. Money is saved because each department goes through the lengthy, expensive hiring process less often. Businesses then have more money to invest in growth thanks to the money saved.

Avatar of Kristina Proffitt

Kristina Proffitt

Date: 10th May 2018 | Category: HR Tech