When an employee resigns

Resignations: conducting exit interviews


When employees leave, it is a good idea to arrange an exit interview. You can then use their response to determine whether there are any underlying issues to be addressed.

However, getting employees to reveal the real reason they're leaving can be difficult.

For example, if they say that they have been offered more money with another employer, this doesn't necessarily explain why they started looking for a new job in the first place. It may in fact be that the employee didn't get on with their manager or a team colleague, or that they think they were unfairly overlooked for promotion.

If, during the interview, the employee starts making accusations against a colleague, don't act too hastily. You must ensure there is a fair investigation.

Questions for exit interviews

Some useful questions you could ask include:

  • What have you enjoyed the most/least about working for the business/the role?
  • What sorts of problems have you found?
  • How well did you understand your role? (this would only be relevant to shorter term staff)
  • How effective is the communication/consultation?
  • How easy was it to get on with your boss/colleagues?
  • To what extent do you feel your work was valued?
  • To what extent were your skills and talents used effectively?
  • To what extent did you feel your role was secure?
  • How satisfied were you with money, terms and conditions, facilities, equipment?
  • How does your current role compare to your new job?
  • When did you begin looking for another job?

The employee's answers may be influenced by their need for a reference.

Ideally, someone other than the leaver's manager should try to find out why they're leaving. They may have difficulty telling their manager about problems with their job or department.

You should also look out for reasons that might lead to employees claiming constructive dismissal or discrimination. These wrongs could be corrected before the employee leaves but beware not to suggest any reasons or say anything that could later be used against you. See dismissing employees and how to prevent discrimination and value diversity.

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