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The Importance of Exit Interviews


 In a recent article titled “A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Exit Interviews” (October 2, 2017) published in the National Federation Of Independent Business, Alexa Mencia writes that “Exit interviews are opportunities to receive unfiltered feedback to improve your management and business.” In the article she provides some tips and key questions for small business owners to help them conduct a more productive exit interview.

Tips like “have someone other than the departing employee’s direct supervisor conduct the exit interview,” schedule buffer time, and be candid, are all effective tips. But I think that offering and accepting criticism are the biggest challenges, especially if the employee has been confrontational.

Being able to have candid and honest exit conversations with these types of employees demands a certain level of trust, which may not be there in these situations. Showing appreciation by thanking the employee for their work may soften the situation and is always a good step forward.

Here are the exit questions that they suggest in the article:


  1. Did you have the support and tools you needed to be successful at your job?
  2. What were your long-term goals when you started, and have they changed?
  3. How did the job match your expectations?
  4. How can the company be improved?
  5. What could I have done differently to keep you as an employee?”

You may have additional questions that have worked for you. But remember that this is an opportunity to receive “unfiltered feedback to improve your management and business.” How you conduct these interviews and what you ask, will play key roles in receiving this beneficial feedback to help you attract and retain the right employees to support future growth. 

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