Recruitment: 3 points to consider in exit interviews

Beef Central, 09/11/2012



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Don’t overlook the importance of exit interviews when a staffmember is leaving your business.

When well-executed, exit interviews can offer valuable insights into recruitment and retention.

The feedback can be used to potentially make effective changes to the employer’s ‘value proposition’ to increase their attractiveness to potential employees.

Businesses can develop employee retention and attraction strategies based on information from an exit interview. For it to be constructive, exit interviews must be executed in an effective way.

Here are three points to consider:


Create a sense of purpose

Employees will be more motivated to engage in an exit interview if they are told the reason and if they believe that it will be used to improve the organisation.

Ensure that you establish a clear process for feeding exit interview results into your human resource strategies and explain to employee how their answers will help to enhance the continuous improvement process. Give them an example of a change which has been made to the employer offering as a result of feedback from exit interviews.


Effective reporting of exit interviews

To ensure the exit interview findings are actionable, it is important to report results to key decision makers on a periodic basis, perhaps quarterly.

This way it should provide enough data to show trends (rather than isolated incidents), which is the best way to persuade management to act. As an added benefit, it also increases anonymity.

If done well, exit interviews represent a great opportunity for recruiters to get some quality actionable information about exiting employee’s attitudes towards the business, which can be used by recruiting strategists to develop the firm’s employer value proposition to make it more effective at attracting talent.


Timing is important

Ideally, exit interviews should be conducted a day or so before the employee leaves, which means that the employee will have closed out their business with the company and less fearful of any repercussions of their exit interview impacting them while at work.

This will encourage employees to attend an exit interview and provide honest feedback.

There is a school of thought which suggests that exit interviews should take place a couple of weeks after the employee has gone, which removes that fear of reprisal, meaning employees will be more inclined to speak freely and they may have time to process things. This way, their testimony may be more focused on the things that really mattered to them.

The risk with this approach is that the employee may have ‘moved on’ mentally and be less inclined to want to ‘look back’ – some may be apathetic about completing the survey.

There is no hard and fast rule of course, but a process needs to be put in place to ensure that your business reaps the benefits of employee feedback and utilise it to create successful retention and recruitment strategies.


Here are some questions you can include in your exit interview:

  • What factors led you to accept a job with the company/business?  
  • How has your perception of those factors changed during the time you have been here?
  • What is your main reason for leaving?
  • What triggered your decision to leave?
  • Did your role turn out to be as you expected?
  • Were you challenged?
  • Did the company fulfil your career goals?
  • Were you happy with the work-life balance?
  • What could your immediate supervisor do to improve his or her management style?
  • Based on your experience with us, what do you think it takes to succeed with our company?
  • Could the company have done anything to encourage you to stay?
  • Would you recommend this company to your friends and colleagues?





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