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Exit Interviews: Useful Tips for HR Managers

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An exit interview is a meeting conducted between a departing employee and a human resource manager or any company representative of an organization to discuss the reasons for an employee's resignation. This article presents some tips for human resource managers and employers to carry out the process smoothly.

From the employer's perspective, the primary aim of the exit interview is to learn reasons for the person's departure, on the basis that criticism is a helpful driver for organizational improvement. Exit interviews are sometimes held at inopportune times, especially from the viewpoint of the employee when he or she is either laid off or fired. But they are generally very useful for progressive companies, who are of the opinion that constructive criticism is an important player in achieving success.

Aside from a desire to improve the workplace, there are other reasons companies hold these meetings. SHRM advises that good exit interview practices reduce employment practice liability and can help protect companies against costly legal action by a disgruntled employee. Other risks for the employee include bridge-burning, especially if the employee chooses to vent his repressed feelings during the interview.

Motives behind Conducting Exit Interviews

Exit interviews, usually conducted by a human resource manager, an affirmative action officer, or the immediate employer. Here are some of the reasons why exit interviews are important:
  • They reduce employee turnover and improve retention of useful employees.
  • Exit interviews provide valuable information as to how to improve recruitment and induction of new employees.
  • Exit interviews are an excellent catalyst for identifying specific mistakes and improvement opportunities in this vital area of management development and succession.
Pamela Holloway, consultant and writer, says, “In a knowledge-focused exit interview, the questions enable the employee to articulate their unique contributions to the organization, and in doing so, feel better about leaving, and better about the organization.”

Tips for Human Resource Managers for Conducting Face-to-Face Interviews Effectively
  • Begin with a positive note. Treat each employee with dignity and respect.
  • Include the letter of resignation with the termination paperwork.
  • Basic administrative tasks: final paycheck; inform the employee about his benefit payments; retrieve keys, identification cards and other company properties.
  • Obtain forwarding address, and if appropriate, name and address of the new employer.
  • End the meeting with a positive tone and if appropriate, ask employees to recommend people to be hired.
  • You cannot compel a departing employee to attend exit interviews; although the return of files, paperwork, and material is normally something that an employer rightfully can insist.
  • Use the word “why” if you want to probe, especially if the first answer is vague or superficial. Questions beginning with “what” and “how” are better for getting people to think and convey to you properly and honestly about their views.
  • Recrimination, blame, revenge and spite are destructive feelings and behaviors, so resist any temptation to go all out guns blazing. Be calm, fair, objective, and as helpful as possible.
In an ideal world, the leaver should be encouraged and enabled to hold a briefing meeting, which all interested parties (and certainly the person’s replacement, if possible) can attend and learn what they need to know.

In short, exit interviews, which are helpful in ascertaining valuable feedback from departing employees, should be handled with care by human resource managers. As a human resource manager, one should learn to respect a departing employee’s privacy and intelligence.
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Popular tags:

 consultants  exit interviews  errors  employee turnover  letter of resignation  human resource manager  employers  memory  recruitment  personality

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