What is an Exit Interview?

What is an Exit Interview?

What is an Exit Interview? Jonathan Poland

An exit interview is a formal meeting or conversation that takes place when an employee is leaving an organization, regardless of the reason for their departure. This could include employees who have been laid off, terminated for cause, or who have voluntarily resigned or retired. The purpose of an exit interview is to gather feedback and information from the departing employee about their experience at the organization. This feedback can be used to identify areas for improvement and make changes to better support and retain future employees. Exit interviews are typically conducted by a human resources representative or the employee’s manager. They may be conducted in person or virtually, depending on the circumstances. The following are common elements of an exit interview.

Relationship Management

Former employees are important to your reputation and maintaining a good relationship with them the primary objective of an exit interview. This includes employees who are terminated for cause. Former employees may go on to become customers, partners, regulators or media influencers who can have an significant impact on your business.


It is common to complete administrative processes as part of the exit interview. For example, communicating retirement benefits to a retiree and giving them access to a tool that they can use to administer their plans. Most exit interviews review a checklist for departing employees that features elements such as cleaning a desk out and returning assets.


Reviewing any legal agreements that will remain relevant when the employee departs such as a non-disclosure agreement.


If a departing employee remains in good standing with your organization it is common to communicate this and state that they are welcome to apply for positions with the organization again in the future.


The departing employee may be asked to complete a survey to collect data related to employee satisfaction or insights into the business.


Departing employees are no longer bound by the politics of an organization and may offer more candid feedback than current employees. Some organizations fear this feedback and prefer to collect easy to use data from a survey that doesn’t allow for controversial ideas to surface. Other organizations collect freeform feedback that allows departing employees to document concerns and recommendations they may have. Many firms that collect this information do nothing with it. However, it is possible to create a summary report for executives from these comments to surface conditions at every level of an organization that impact employee satisfaction. It is also basic due diligence for the manager conducting the exit interview to escalate any serious accusations that are made by a departing employee in the exit interview.

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