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Retention Management And Metrics

What is an Exit Interview?

Departing Employees In human resource terms, an exit interview is a survey that is conducted with an employee when he or she leaves the company. The information from each survey is used to provide feedback on why employees are leaving, what they liked about their employment and what areas of the company need improvement. Exit interviews are most effective when the data is compiled and tracked over time.

How are Exit Interviews conducted?

The exit interview may be conducted through a variety of methods. Some of the methods include: in-person, over the telephone, on paper, and through the Internet such as with Nobscot’s WebExit.

Pros and Cons of each method of Exit Interviewing

In-Person Exit Interviews

With in-person exit interviews an HR representative meets individually with each terminating employee.


  • Can provide information regarding benefits and retrieve company property during the interview
  • Gives a personal touch to each employee
  • Can probe for more information on each question


  • Employees may be afraid to share sensitive or negative information during an in-person interview
  • For larger companies, it may be too time consuming to interview every employee
  • It’s difficult to track information received verbally during an interview

Telephone Exit Interviews

Telephone Exit Interviews are conducted over the telephone by an HR Representative or an outside third party consultant.


  • Can probe for more information on each question
  • Can enter data into a tracking system while conducting the interview
  • Easier to schedule than in-person interviews


  • Time consuming if done in-house by an HR Representative
  • Expensive if done with an outside consultant
  • Employees often reluctant to verbally share sensitive or negative information

Paper and Pencil Exit Interviews

Paper and Pencil Exit Interviews are usually conducted by a form that is given to the employee on their last day or mailed to the employee’s home.


  • Takes less time to provide a form compared with conducting an in person or phone interview
  • Employees can share information on paper that they may be reluctant to say in person


  • Return rates for exit interview forms average just 30-35%
  • Difficult and time consuming to compile and track the data from paper and pencil forms

Online Exit Interview Management Systems


  • Employee self-service so easy for HR to administer
  • Employees comfortable sharing information by computer so more honest responses
  • Information automatically compiles and tracked
  • Reports available at a click of a button
  • Participation rates (for WebExit customers) double that for paper and pencil exit interviews
Exit Interviews - page 2

© Copyright B. Carvin, 2002. Reprint with permission, email

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