Post-Exit Interviews – More useful than exit interviews

Expect to find a significant difference in the answers you get from post-exit interviews/questionnaires (as opposed to traditional exit interviews) because:

  • Individuals are less emotional 6 months later.
  • They have had time to reflect and compare “us”
    to their new situation.
  • And they no longer have the need for a “good”
    reference from their manager “restricting” their answers.

Note: Have a process in place for using the results of the survey to improve the way we manage. If you just put the answers in the employee file or if management does not actually act on the results…stop the process.

Don’t be surprised if the answers you get differ significantly from your traditional exit interviews! Expect the top reasons for leaving to be:

  • Poor management and
  • Lack of challenge/excitement!

Most do. Also, don’t be surprised that you are already aware of who the “bad” managers are and…that top management will be resistant to do anything.

Alternatives or supplements to post-exit interviews include:

  • Why employees stay” survey, where you ask current employees the reasons they like (or stay in) their current job.
  • Barriers to your productivity (and frustrating things that could easily be changed) survey where you try to identify things that prevent employees from being the most productive.

What does a post-exit interview questionnaire look like?

Send them a paper survey within 3 to 12 months of a voluntary termination (Attach a $5 bill to the questionnaire to reimburse them for their time. It will probably double your response rate). Pre-test the questionnaire so you are sure it can be done in 15 minutes or less. Include a stamped return envelop (if possible, include a mini-pencil).

I suggest you ask questions related to:

  1. What were the positive things about your job/ manager/ the company that caused you to STAY as long as you did with us?
  2. Are there any aspects in your CURRENT job/ manager/ the company that are superior to what we offered?
  3. What were the 3 biggest BARRIERS to productivity in the last 6 months with us?
  4. Can you help us improve the way we manage/ do business by telling us what were the significant “triggers” or REASONS that made you to decide to leave our firm.

    Can you let us know the TOP 5 significant reasons for leaving us: (1 = most important reason, 2 = next most important, etc., up to 5 reasons, in descending order of importance)
    • ___ Working conditions
    • ___ Co-workers/team
    • ___ Actions by my manager
    • ___ Lack of action by my manager
    • ___ Actions by top management
    • ___ Lack of action by top management
    • ___ Compensation issues
    • ___ Benefits issues
    • ___ Reasons unrelated to my job
    • ___ Lack of challenge / job growth
    • ___ Lack of promotional opportunities
    • ___ Insufficient training
    • ___ Inadequate equipment/ tools/ support
    • ___ Poor communications (mostly from ______)
    • ___ Lack of job security
    • ___ Not appreciated/ lack of recognition by my manager
    • ___ Issues related to our product, customers or firm performance
    • ___ An offer I couldn’t refuse
    • ___ Other, please specify ___________________
    • ___ Other, please specify ___________________
    • ___ Other, please specify ___________________
      Are there any other comments or suggestions that you can offer that might help us IMPROVE the way we manage/ operate?
      ______________________________________
      ______________________________________
  5. Would you consider returning to our company at any time in the near future? Give them a choice of returning the questionnaire anonymously or giving their name. Give them a choice of listing their current job and company or keeping their job/ company confidential.

    Send them a follow-up questionnaire if you don’t get a response within 30 days.
© 1997

As seen on Gately Consulting.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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