Exit Interviews – Common Mistakes

When an employee resigns or leave the organization, most companies do give them an opportunity to appear for an exit interview. And believe me many a time conducting exit interview becomes a much complex task then recruitment interviews.

Conducting an exit interview is tricky as there are chances to meet a sulking employee, not so happy ones and yes not to forget some happy ones as well. These interviews are by and large optional as there may be some employees who might feel discomfort appearing for one and sharing the thoughts while leaving the organization. The human resources professionals and managers play an imperative role in ensuring that the interview remains as productive and as educational as possible.

But even then we make few mistakes and then the purpose of conducting such interviews dissipates, what are these mistakes?? Let us discuss here:

Preparing an Agenda: A good number of HR professionals do not prepare the specific agenda while conducting exit interviews, which takes the discussion to a totally different level and makes it haywire. One needs to be specific in terms of the agenda and try and stick to it to get the best out of the interview. Even the employee who is leaving will appreciate your professionalism if things are put in a formatted and structured manner.

Maintain confidentiality: Win the faith of the employee that the organization cares and values employee opinions and experiences. Interact with the employee as honestly as possible. Clarify that all the details discussed and shared will remain confidential. Also when discussing the issues with senior management it is always better to discuss the specific concerns in general rather than discussing employee specific issues and concerns.
Besides potential bridge burning, risks for departing employees include the information falling into the wrong hands and ruining references.

Being defensive: When conducting exit interviews there are chances that an employee reveals and shares certain information about a colleague, a superior or subordinate that as an HR professional or Line Manager we may not appreciate. But getting defensive will not solve the purpose as the employee then may not disclose the details which can be rectified. Best policy here is to be all ears to the resigning employee as there are still chances that you may retain the person so it is best to hear him/her out.

Person specific question: It is always better to avoid asking direct questions about specific person as the employee may like to continue having professional relationship with that person and providing answers for any such specific questions may not let him open up during the exit interview.

Analyzing the Exit interview: Here most organization does not actually take an action on the data and information collected through exit interviews as well as they don’t analyze the information provided by one employee with others to seek out certain valuable inputs, henceforth dissolving the entire purpose of conducting an exit interview.
Analyzing may give a better opportunity to look for issues which are repeatedly mentioned over a period of time by different employees.

Conducting interview on last working day: If we do that it looks more of a formality then the requirement. Last day en employee would have to take clearance, deposit certain things at various departments, meeting peers and final handing over so organizing exit interview may be too clumsy and might not solve the rationale . The employee will also not take the exit interview as an opportunity to contribute something to the organization and would not discuss important things.

Do not judge: Do not put words in the mouth of the employee just for the sake of it, do not perceive the information made available from your point of view, leave the space open for a convenient and comfortable talk. Criticizing the issues or employee who has already resigned will also not suffice the objective of an exit interview.

Personally, having a discussion along with a structured format where all the information can be written down is the best way of conducting an exit interview, but companies should provide an availability of questionnaire if some employees are not comfortable sharing the information in person. Now a days many organizations have tools where the questionnaire is available on computers through ERP or other softwares to make the process more convenient.

  • renu sharma

    but you do’nt mention the next procedure of that employees who leaves theie job’s without any notice…………can company hold his salary or other funds…….please suggest me in this matter……………….

    Renu sharma

  • Nataraja

    Good Article indeed. Many people conduct Exit interviews just for documentation work and for showing that they follow the process. They dont analyze that why is the employee leaving, what did he expect from the organization, whether he is not being utilized properly, or is he really looking for some challenges which this company has failed to provide. All these factors have to be taken into consideration so that atleast these issues can be discussed during team meetings.

  • abdul Razaq Khan

    its a good article , its fact that we do conduct exit interview but only as a routine matter, so here we need to make exit interviews structured, so to learn different things to retain employee and take different measures to develop working environment

  • Kailash Goyal

    Good Article, no doubt.

  • venkataraman

    Really, I have wasted my 42 years of longlife without noticing this site. My hearty thanks to help me to improve my knolwdge

  • sangita

    This article defiantly will help to HR people for exit interviews as well above given comment is really good one.

    Really, why people are leaving that very rare organization takes care and that is why presence employees also might be unhappy. Because they know that here nobody care about employee and their opinion.

    Organization should make sure about employee’s leaving/resigning ratio. why people are resigning?

  • H. V. Singh

    A very good article. Many employee do not reveal the true reasons for leaving the job during exit interview. This happens when Personnel dept. do not interacts with them while they were still in the job. Exit interview will serve no purpose if company does not have good personnel policy.

  • JSV Nagalakshmi

    It’s really a good article. Very useful information. Thank you very much.

  • j bhat

    My second employer with whom I have worked for 13 years is expert in creating a situation for employees to leave the organisation so that he donot have to settle their accounts.
    Do u think this type of abusive practice is punishable under the act.

  • B A Raju

    hai friends i am working in manfacturing company as a management trainee Recently my superior has left the job presently I am leading in the position, so one employee resign the job, but we have to conduct the exit interview , so we need exit interview format please. Give some suggestion to me as well as give me some format in related manufacturing company.

  • The article provides clear information about the process involved in Exit Interviews. This is one of the best articles i had ever read on Exit Interviews.

  • Govind Gadiyar

    Dear All,

    Notice period must be served, except when the employee is hospitalized and physically can not attend his duty. Few cases notice pay may be deducted but better to be firm on issue of notice period.

  • Kavita Jain

    Dear All,

    Notice period must be served, except when the employee is hospitalized and physically can not attend his duty. Few cases notice pay may be deducted but better to be firm on issue of notice period.

  • venkatesan

    Dear All

    One may give the option to the employee himself with whom he wants to share his view. This may increase the comfort level of the employee.

    If this option is given, it may not be fair for the management to go back after that.


  • sanjay

    Awesome articles ! Yes, it is really necessary to have a exit interview in proper way. We can know the functionality of certain process or wht exactly employee seeks from the company. It also helps us to know, wht kind of people HR has hired. As HR is a human being, there is a chance that they might make a mistake, while hiring a person !!

  • Vinitha Varghese

    It is a very good article & Hr persons new to the field can study a lot from this site. Thank You very much

  • mamatha

    Very informative article,which breifs the importance of conducting exit interview.




    I am very happy to know the complete exit interviews from the above article. But it is unfortunate, some of the Directors dictate terms for their own selfishness and do not care the Employees who are getting separated from the Organisation and do not have courtesy to talk to Employees who get separated from the Organisation when voluntarily exit Employees meet them. This should be brought to the notice of all Onwers of the Industry and also who work in Director Level that too especially who hold Finance and Administration through a public notice to be published in all periodicals through out India and also through a letter from any of the Organisation like National Institute of Personnel Management, etc., Let the Management analyze the exit interview and implement the suggestion after discussion with all concern HOD and also Board of Directors. Through this column I am requesting all the Industry’s Director and other Heads of the Industry to help the employees who get separated from the Organisation. This is applicable only for those Employees get separated voluntarily and this is not applicable for Employees get separated from the Industry for involvement in theft, criminal cases and who are dismissed from services and terminated from services.


  • vidushi

    A very informative article indeed. I will always keep that in mind, while going for an interview!

  • Brijesh Kottari

    This is really nice artical HR should be aware of this…

  • May Nguyen

    Thanks for the article, I found it very good.

  • We have also observed that employees are hardly happy at any point of time though they would have got the best in life…Gratitude factor towards the company is also very less in most of the cases…This makes the HR team complete the exit interview as just a process i feel :-)

  • Aslam Perwez

    This article is good , It will give inner idea of a person leaving organisation … and at the same time HR to gear up between empolyee and employer relationship in the future ..

  • Hemant Sharma

    Good one but we have to think earlier about the employees rather than the time of leaving if we have the system or procedures where the top authorities should understand the needs of employees and i believe that situation will not come to any organisation because people also not happy if they are leaving the company.

  • kartheek reddy

    this article is nice.but i didn’t agree this because most of the employees in organization are on contract based so there no need of conducting any exit interview.

  • Gopinath

    The article was really superb.In reality the company should treat ex-employees more tenderly since they are the news careers. The treatment should be such that he should recommend any other person without hesitation to the ex-employer. All the more its an opportunity to make needed corrections in the present system.

    I loved the article.

  • Mrityunjay Singh

    Dear Sir

    Defenately its a good one idea. But Do any one implement this seriously in his organization.
    Most of companies takes it as a formality or for documentation purpose and never bothered about the out come of the exit interviews. Though it can be beneficial to reduce the hire & fire activities.


    Mrityunjay Singh

  • Rashee Sarkar

    Hi Friends,

    Is is okay to rely on the information given by the employee who is leaving? Coz I had experienced that some of the employees, who are leaving just because they want to move some times gives incorrect/biased information or some time they make scapegoat of their rivals or peers.
    Actually their motive of resigning is just higher salary or other better prospects.
    Analysis and investigation is most important before forming an opinion


  • nadia

    good article, but i don’t think that the companies follow the system or procedure of exit interview when the employee plans to leave the company.if the employee leaves, the companies hire someone else.

  • Good Article, very informative.

    Purnima Kumari

  • mulifitse msonkho

    an exit interview is very important for the employer only since they will know there weakeness so the they can polish it out, but to the eployee i think its a difficult situation in real sense more workers resigns due to underpay, poor supervision, lack of relationship. during the working period most managers resist to understand someones problem, so i dont think during exit time the boss might be willing to hear for asurbodinate, what for?

  • Ashwini Kumar

    Really good article. We do such mistakes frequently but realised the fact know.

  • Balaji Mudholkar

    I am very happy to know the complete exit interviews from the above article. Thanks for the article, I found it very good. A very informative article indeed. The article provides clear information about the process involved in Exit Interviews. This is one of the best articles i had ever read on Exit Interviews.

  • prasad keluskar

    conducting exit interviews is supposed to be on the principle of “dying declaration.” it is believed that the dying person never tells lies. But in practice the experience is different about exit interviews. The simple reason is that the employee does not want to spoil his relations with his co-employees. he also thinks that any way I m going, why should I give wrong information. One more fear is in his mind, that if suppose a reference check comes from my new employer, then perhaps the feedback might be negative if I tell adverse things in exit interview.
    These are my personal opinions.

    Prasad Keluskar

  • M R RAO

    I am an independent HR Consultant. A very good article. Many organizations do not conduct exit interviews ane even if they conduct, they are very peripheral. An organization should know why an employee is leaving and try to make necessary corrections/ modifications in thier procedures and man mangement.

  • prem

    This article is a very fine one. Practice is different from laid down rules & regulations. This aspect should be statutorily imposed. The views & ideas of the leaving employee should be given due credit by the employer and accordingly changes should be imposed in the organization, so that these mistakes do not re-occur.

  • Sir,
    This article is indeed very beneficial from HR point of view & will enable the HR dept to conduct a structured exit interview.

  • neha jain

    I have experienced that in spite of having a structured format which is to be filled by the employee in privacy while leaving. Very few employees feel free to reveal the true reasons of their departure and many don’t even feel like filling the form considering it just a formality not meant for them.
    How to obtain essential inferences from exit interview if such conditions prevail.

  • ds123

    Hello friends !!! I’m new to this forum & today only i read this article. I feel it is a nice article. You have really brought out the points that people actually miss out while conducting an Exit interview & which are very important.
    You have also rightly said that it is good to conduct the exit interviews just after the nitice has been given by the employee so that organization can take measures to retain the valuable employees.
    Keep posting such articles