A Graceful Exit: The benefits of a successful exit interview

The exit interview is the final part of the recruitment cycle, and one which is often overlooked or skipped in the hurry to hire somebody into the vacant role and onboard them.  It’s easy to make this mistake – your former staff member is leaving, so they no longer have anything to add to the business, right?

Wrong.

Departing staff can provide honest feedback and information. By failing to hold an exit interview, employers miss their best opportunity to gain the staff member’s honest, transparent view of your business and to explore the reasons they’ve chosen to leave.

This kind of honest feedback can form an excellent foundation on which to build changes to your staff retention, processes and technology that help you improve every aspect of your business.  

This kind of opportunity for information though must be managed carefully so that the departing staff members leave on positive terms with minimal impact to your company’s brand.

At the exit interview try to ask open, general questions that encourage engagement and answers such as, ‘What was the best thing about your role here?’ and ‘Did you feel you had the appropriate tools, resources and working conditions to be successful in your role?’, before you get to the big question – ‘Why did you chose to leave?’.

No matter how good you think your relationship with a departing employee may be, the interviewer must be prepared for negative comments. It’s imperative the interviewer doesn’t take the comments personally.

You must allow the outgoing employee to express their feelings and opinions honestly without then ‘rebutting’ these comments. Resist the urge to make your own negative comments, rather focusing on ensure the individual feels they have been heard. Remain professional throughout the interview.

For more tips and to discuss your staffing needs, chat to us at Small Business Society.

The information provided in this document is for your guidance only and is general in nature. It does not constitute as legal advice. It is the responsibility of the individual to seek legal advice where required.


Receive our monthly newsletter and get regular templates, checklists and resources to assist you on your Human Resources journey.

Get our free 45 page Human Resources Guide right away to help you take the first steps in setting in place the platform for a best practice human resource function for your small business.

* indicates required


Are your leaders the best they can be?
Sign up to Small Business Society and we will send you our FREE 8 point plan for effectively supporting and developing your leaders and managers.

FREE 8 point plan for successful leaders


About Kate Tongue

Kate Tongue is the founding Director of Small Business Society.

She is a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional with more than 10 years of experience across the private and public sectors.

Her particular interest and experience is in managing the employee life cycle, delivering process improvements, and Human Resource strategy.


Looking for more information on the various stages of the employee life cycle or Human Resources in general?  The following may interest you.

Articles to assist you with your staff engagement:
Effective employee engagement
Staff engagement through a healthy work environment

Articles to assist you with recruitment and probation:
FAQs about probationary periods answered
How to get the most out of reference checks

Do you know your Human Resources terms?
15 must know HR terms

Plus lots more information and advice:
Small Business Society Blog