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As an employer, have you found exit interviews to be useful or a waste of time?

Carter O'Brien's Profile

Answers

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

They can be either. When the person giving the exit interview is professional and asks questions that require a repsonse more than yes/no or agree/neutral/disagree, a company can get a lot out of it. One of the keys is asking questions that allow a person to respond honestly. If the company uses the data (removing the personal edges) well, they can identify patterns - good or bad - and develop systems to overcome issues that might be causing employee flight.

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

I have never conducted an exit interview because, I also have always refused to participate in one when I was leaving.

Why?

Because, as a hiring manager, I often had the details of other's exit interviews shared with me by either the party that was leaving or, by the person who conducted the exit interview. And, I've never seen any good come out of them.

In some cases, the exitee has vented their frustration, usually about a poor manager, on their way out in the hopes that they might make it better for those left behind.

But, it never has. Instead, the company pulls behind the bad manager and discounts what the departing employee shared in the exit interview as "sour grapes".

In other cases, I completely understood why the employee was leaving because they had shared that with me. Only, to later hear from the manager or HR person that conducted the exit interview that they "didn't get" why the employee was leaving. These managers and, especially HR types, often interjected their own interpretation of what the employee had told them and used it as fodder to further their own, parochial goals. They just can't seem to accept that sometimes people just leave because they want to do something else. Or, maybe one of the "three D's in life - death, divorce or dislocation" that all of us face at one time or another.

Like I say, I've never seen exit interviews provide anything of value for the employer or the employee and have refused to engage in them myself. It's actually sad because there is great potential there for better understanding that can lead to better management at the employer. But, it just doesn't seem to work out that way.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Along the lines of Tom,

If you fired the person, all you'll get is venting, which whether its accurate or not, the company will ignore.

If the person leaves because they a dissatisfied, see above. But then again, if you were listening all along, maybe you could have "saved" the employee.

If the person retires, odds are you haven't listened to that employee, and be wasting both their time and yours.

Open communication between management and the workforce would minimize disruption of the workforce, productivity, save time and money as well as increase top-line revenues. But how many companies practice this pro-active stand?

Topic Expert
Randy Miller
Title: Partner
Company: CFO Edge
(Partner, CFO Edge) |

Exit interviews are a waste of time.

99% of the time, the employee just wants to leave and will give you the answer that they think will end the interview the fastest.

Depending on the terms of their departure, they will either vent because they don't care; or if they are concerned about references, they will try not to offend anyone that they might need in the future. Either way, you seldom get useful information.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

I have feelings about them similar to Sara's comments. We email the associates a survey hoping they won't feel on the spot and will feel like they can be open and honest. I have witnessed exactly what Tom points out but it has also shed light on potential issues we suspected going on but were unable to confirm. The person who left and filled out the survey honestly were able to solidify our suspicion about a store / or it's leader.

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

Exit interviews are useful when there is retention/turnover problems in the organizations.A well structured exit interview / questionnaire can provide insight to weaknesses in the employee experience with the organization. How the information is used and applied depends on skills of the analyst and the organization culture. Some turnover is good turnover.

Jack Ormberget
Title: CFO
Company: Color Star Growers of Texas, Inc.
(CFO, Color Star Growers of Texas, Inc.) |

I believe in the concept, but have never been with an organization that was willing to objectively listen to the feedback. Family-owned or similar small companies where I have worked were not open to hearing much less acting on the feedback; egos were frequently in the way. I actually did conduct informal exit interviews after the fact, and I frequently found the insight to be spot-on; whether we addressed the concerns or not. While "sour-grapes" do sometimes get vented, I suspect that if you are implementing the process with professionals in a similar fashion, the data gathered could be valuable.

Jack Ormberget
Title: CFO
Company: Color Star Growers of Texas, Inc.
(CFO, Color Star Growers of Texas, Inc.) |

(Some how my answer doubled, so I am editing the second response.) I would like to see this process utilized, but I am hearing that most others have not been in companies that were capable of doing so either. I do believe it is a shame.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Any company data you can collect is valuable. It is through this format that you can understand if all is right in the company, from a people perspective. Just take it with a grain of salt. People that complete interviews/surveys are either very satisfied or very dis-satisfied. The middle is usually silent. You may conduct 20 surveys and trip over something on the 21st. Depending on what you find, it may be worth the exercise. It is truly an exercise where minimal effort may result in some useful information.

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