The Importance Of An ‘Exit Interview’

There are interview processes across all organisations around the world to help select the right or rather the most appropriate candidate for some specific position or post in the organisation.
14 Jan 2017 11:00
The Importance Of An ‘Exit Interview’

There are interview processes across all organisations around the world to help select the right or rather the most appropriate candidate for some specific position or post in the organisation.

It is almost impossible to have heard of any company which does not take candidates through a process of Interview and then make the decision about selecting or rejecting him or her.

I believe that there are a lot of organisations which also take to the interview process to a deeper level by having more than one interview.

These organisations will create a general interview, a technical interview and then a final interview and only those candidates who have cleared all these will eventually be invited to join the organisation.

Having said this, there is one more kind of an interview which is completely different from the ones that have been mentioned and described above and this one is called the Exit Interview!!!

If not all, many of today’s successful organisations have developed this practice and policy of conducting the Exit Interview.

But what is it exactly?

Well, in a concise manner I would describe an Exit Interview as a process where the specific employee, who has decided to resign from his organisation is invited for a discussion or a two-way communication process.

This would be with the Human Resources (HR) representative.

There are some such interviews where the HR person is accompanied by the immediate boss of the person exiting.

In this process of an Exit interview the out going employee gets an opportunity to ‘open-up’.

He gets the opportunity to share his thoughts, perspectives and even his emotions.

However many a times this kind of an interaction through the Exit Interview can truly become an important process of sharing of information.

And understanding that can help the organisation to improve itself too!


Importance of ‘Exit Interview’ through a real-life example.

Prashant was a middle level manager working with an esteemed manufacturing organisation in Nadi.

He had joined as an executive and within just three years had risen to become a manager, in charge of Financial Accounting processes.

One of his strengths was that he was able to identify and subsequently take effective measures in cases of financial fraud.

It was because of this ability of his to spot financial frauds that he was given a promotion.

But then, to the surprise of the senior management he had suddenly decided to quit the company. There were many rumours going around the organisation as to the reasons for his resignation, one of which was that he had got a much better offer from another organisation in Suva.

Prashant had tendered his resignation and was serving his Notice Period.

The senior management was keen that he stays and even offered a higher salary package to him.

But that too did not seem to change Prashant’s decision to leave the organisation.

A week before his final day at office, Smita, the Human Resource Manager met the senior management and apprised them of her decision to conduct an Exit Interview for Prashant.

They were a bit reluctant about this interview process and told her that they knew the reason for his resignation.

It was the extremely high salary that the new employer was offering which was the real reason for his decision to leave.

“Please do not waste your time in such Exit Interviews as nothing will really come out of it, Prashant seems to have made up his mind.”

Saying this to Smita, one of the senior management members walked out of that meeting.

But the other members seated there were a bit more hopeful and gave their consent to the interview.

It was a Friday morning and at exactly 10 am Prashant walked into the HR Manager’s cabin. It was only the two of them.

None of Prashant’s seniors or the senior management people was present as they were specifically and politely requested to not attend it.

Smita invited Prashant and ordered for some coffee and sandwiches and then began her interaction,

“Dear Prashant, though this is officially an Exit Interview I would like us to perceive it as an open and honest discussion.

“You have been an asset for us and your sudden decision to resign from our organisation has surprised many including the senior management people.

“This Exit interview is all about giving you the opportunity to share your reasons for your decision to leave us.

“Also is an opportunity to acquire feedback from you which can help us for the future development of the organisation.

“Remember Prashant, this is not an interview like the one we have before selecting the person and hence look at it more so as ‘Intense and ‘Improvising’ interaction!” and not a subtle Investigation or Inquisition.

Upon hearing this, Prashant opened up and began sharing his thoughts with Smita. “First and foremost dear Smita, I am extremely happy that the Human Resources has adopted this policy of Exit Interviews.

This is especially because it has given me the platform to express my views and emotions to you in an official yet informal way.

I would like to begin by saying that though there have been rumours about the reasons for my resignation which supposedly are related to higher salary and more growth opportunities.

I wish to tell most honestly that I am leaving this organisation just for one reason and that is my boss.

Yes! He has been, since the past six months trying to continuously obstruct and hamper all my developmental initiatives for not just our Financial department but even for the organisation as a whole.  I had mailed him three developmental ideas.

However, in one of the subsequent weekly meetings he not only humiliated me in from of the others about the poor quality regarding my ideas.

But even sent a very critical and discouraging mail to me about it and to humiliate me further he marked a copy to everyone in the team.

My boss also happens to be the brother in law of the owner of this organisation and hence I was totally helpless in terms of who to share my frustration and anguish with.

Everyone in my team knows about this but none will ever speak about it due to his connections.  I even tried to sort things out between us and hence tried to seek a personal meeting with him but to no avail.

He would avoid me and this despite of my above par performance.

Finally I gave up and did not want to suffer his humiliation any more.

Therefore I have decided to quit.

I was actually happy here till my earlier boss was transferred and this one was brought in.”

Smita was listening patiently but seemed quite shocked.

She had no clue about all this.

There were some other related issues which he explained to her as well. It was almost two hours and their interaction finally concluded.

“Prashant, I have understood everything.  I believe that the sharing of this information with me was important. I believe your future with this organisation need not come to a halt and we definitely would not want to lose a person like you”.

Within the next two days, based on what was shared by Prashant and also based on Smita’s interaction with some of his colleagues to corroborate his facts, she met Prashant again and shared her views.

“Prashant, against the backdrop of the feedback I have collected and the information that you have shared I have spoken to the senior management and we have made a decision.  We have decided to offer you a change of position.

From being the Manager in charge of Financial Accounting you will now be elevated to the level and position of a Senior Manager for the Audit and Recovery function.

Thus, you will report directly to the Chief Financial Officer.

We believe that positive assets like you must stay with us and help our organisation grow.”

Prashant was pleasantly perplexed, but after thinking about it the next day, he had made the decision.

He had accepted the new offer from Smita and had decided to stay back.

The exit interview was in a sense the ‘game–changer’, the turning point so to say.  Well friends, an exit interview is something that must be adopted by each and every organisation albeit small or large in size.

This gives an opportunity for a fair and open communication between both the entities.


Just remember a few things that must constitute an EXIT INTERVIEW:

  1. Always do a rigorous ROOT-CAUSE –ANALYSIS as part of the Exit Interview; the three fundamental questions to be asked to the person – WHY- WHAT- WHO
  2. The exit interview must be executed with the highest levels of ‘CONFIDENTIALITY’ or Secrecy
  3. There should be a TWO-WAY process in communication
  4. You may involve the immediate superior of the person who is exiting, but with the approval of that person as quite often their grievances could be about the superior himself.
  5. Never make exit interviews extremely FORMAL, as they will make the person reluctant to OPEN UP. A slightly informal atmosphere makes things easier for the person.
  6. Observation and Listening are important tools for the HR person to assess and evaluate the person exiting

These are some of the things you may keep in mind before conducting the Exit interview!

Mayur Kalbag is a Leadership Coach, Corporate Trainer & Author. He can be contacted via email:

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