Do you ever wonder why your top employees are leaving you? Do you want to know what you could have done to convince them to stay with you instead? Well, a good exit interview can give you the answer to these questions.

On the part of employees, exit interviews are often the last serious form of interaction they have with their soon-to-be ex-managers. Thus, they typically see it as a chance to talk about their experience working in your company, and perhaps to let you know what things you should pay more attention to in order to keep the satisfaction levels of your employees high.

Here are some tips on how to make your exit meetings successful:

Plan the Meeting

Meeting with your outgoing employee face-to-face is always the best way to do an exit interview. But you can do a written survey first before you have an in-person meeting with your employee. Ideally, you want the meeting to be scheduled around the employee’s final days in your company, like perhaps during the last two days of their employment. It is important also that you explain why an exit interview is necessary, and have your questions ready in advance.

What You Should Ask

Start by informing the employee that he or she has the right to decline to answer some questions if they don’t feel uncomfortable answering them. Don’t forget to ask for permission if you could share the answers with your superiors.

Below are some sensible questions you need to ask:

1. Why did you decide to leave the company?
2. What is the organization doing right? What is the company doing poorly?
3. Is there any way the conditions can be improved?
4. What would you do to change the situation that has caused you to leave?
5. How do your coworkers feel about the situation?
6. What can the company do to improve things around the workplace?
7. How do you feel about working here?
8. What are the things you loved about this organization?
9. If you could change some of the current policies here, what would they be?
10. What did you like about working with your supervisor?
11. What piece of advice can you give to your replacement?

What Not to Ask

The aim of exit interviews is to gather constructive and helpful feedback about the company, which you can eventually use to improve the system, the policies, and even the people in your organization. Thus, you have to be extra careful with your questions so that you will not fuel negativity in any way.

Take note of these tips:

1. Avoid asking questions about specific issues or people. It is okay to ask for feedback about a manager or supervisor, but be sure not to give any personal opinion.

2. Do not argue with the employee. It is possible that you will hear things against some people or the organization itself, but you should never engage in any argument with the employee you are interviewing. Be there to listen only and not to defend your company.

3. Never try to change the employee’s decision to leave your company. Even if you really don’t want your employee to leave, it is just unreasonable to try to convince him or her to stay through the exit interview, as this is very unprofessional.

What to Do with the Feedback

In any business coaching program, the importance of gathering and processing employee feedback is always emphasized. Take note of all the information you can get from your employees who are leaving the company, and do an analysis of such data so that it could make sense to you. Use it as basis for improving the different aspects of the organization.

Author's Bio: 

Cecile Peterkin is a certified career and retirement coach, and a registered member of the Career Professionals of Canada and the International Coach Federation. She is also the Founder and Senior Career Strategist at Cosmic Coaching Centre, provider of career and life management services for middle managers and mid-career professionals across Canada, United States and Europe.