How to Conduct an Exit Interview

Author: Michael C. Jacobson, XpertHR Legal Editor

Exit interviews are one of employer's best tools to obtain valuable, candid information regarding its business practices from employees. Outgoing employees are in a unique position to report elements of working relationships, productivity, managerial styles and, in some cases, wasteful or illegal practices in the company of which HR professionals may not be aware.

However, exit interviews are only as effective as the methods by which they are conducted. This document will assist employers with selecting the proper person to conduct the exit interview, how that individual should prepare for the interview, what questions the interviewer should and should not ask and perhaps most importantly, what action(s) to take, if any, based on the information acquired.

Importantly, absent a collective bargaining agreement to the contrary, employers are not restricted in any way from requesting that outgoing employees participate in exit interviews. However, while some employees may voluntarily participate, others might be hesitant for myriad reasons. In that event, HR professionals should use any lawful means they have at their disposal to convince outgoing employees to participate in the exit interview process. The information they may divulge could be that important.