DON’T FORGET ABOUT THAT OTHER INTERVIEW!
At every company, from largest to smallest, the hiring process always includes some form of an interview. It is expected, and it certainly makes sense. The job interview is an important management tool that plays a major role in the hiring decision. But there is another type of interview, and an equally important management tool, which is often overlooked – the exit interview.
The exit interview is the perfect opportunity for an HR manager to get valuable feedback from someone who probably knows your organization better than you – or at least they most often have a completely different perspective. They have worked in other areas, have worked for another boss, they have seen and heard things that you haven’t. If you want to know what is really going on, ask someone who is leaving!
If someone is freely leaving your organization, there is a reason. Sometimes it is as simple as relocating or retiring, but not always. Sometimes an employee’s departure is an indication of a bigger organizational or departmental issue. Year after year, during good times and bad times, one of the primary reasons that employees leave a company is not because of the company, but rather their boss. A popular belief is that the primary reason people quit their jobs is because of pay. Not so, according to a recent Gallup poll. A bad boss is the number one reason for leaving. “People quit their boss, not their job.”
While the hiring interview is often lengthy and includes a lot of in-depth questions, the exit interview is the exact opposite. A handful of very general questions are sufficient. Examples of such questions might include:
1) What did you like most about working here?
2) What did you like least about working here?
3) Do you feel that your training in your job has been adequate? What additional training would you have wanted?
4) What is your reason for leaving? (This reason might be different than previously announced!)
5) If you were in charge, what would you do to make this company a better place to work?
The reality is that during the hiring interview, the job candidate is trying to say the things that he/she thinks you want to hear. Accordingly, the hiring interview is probably not the most honest interview. By contrast, the exit interview is probably much more truthful – they are saying the things they have always wanted to say!
When an employee announces that they are leaving, don’t forget about the exit interview. They were interviewed before they came to your company, and before they knew much about the company. Now that they are leaving and truly know the company (warts and all), shouldn’t we be interested in what they have to say?