Exit interviews: the key to your future recruitment?

Unfortunately, exit interviews are often too easy to neglect. When an employee leaves your organisation exit interviews can often be lost in the haste to recruit for their role, in the rush to complete a full Anne Corderhandover and, in a lot of cases, employees may simply want to leave without any fan fair.

Yet exit interviews can be so important. HR professionals know the benefits through and through. Exit interviews help establish if there was anything – within reasonable measure – that the organisation could have done differently to stop the departure or to have made the relationship with that employee more fulfilling (for both parties).

But the extent to which exit interviews can be of use to organisations stretches beyond retrospectively looking at what could’ve been done differently and into how things could be changed in the future – and how future recruitment could be improved.

With this in mind, there are four ways exit interviews can help to inform an organisation’s on-going recruitment.

Exit interviews can help you to:

  1. Create brand ambassadors
  2. Make you aware of any ‘problem areas’
  3. Inform your employer brand
  4. Be prepared for any negative comments

If you’re completing exit interviews as part and parcel of HR duties within your organisation, it would be a crying shame if you weren’t using the information garnered from those interviews to inform your on-going recruitment.

How exit interviews can create employer brand ambassadors

Exit interviews can be your last opportunity to leave a lasting impression with employees. Of course, leaving a solid and positive impression with previous employees is best established from the very start of their working relationship with you. Building a positive connection with employees is by no means something that can be achieved over night.

However, an exit interview can be your opportunity to reinforce the positives an employee takes away from your organisation.

Of course, sometimes employees do leave organisations under negative circumstances but many do not. Use an exit interview to reinforce your brand values, when appropriate, and intend to leave a positive lasting impression.

High-calibre candidates are in high demand. As a result, candidates are becoming more and more discerning about the organisations they choose to work with.

When candidates are offered a new job, they will often look to gather ‘social proof’ on what it’s like to work for that organisation. This can include talking to friends and family, checking social media and checking employee review sites for peer-to-peer reviews and advice.

The employees that leave your organisation could be great brand ambassadors for your organisation if their departure is carefully handled. As a result they could be the ones recommending your organisation to friends, family or even leaving a positive online review.

How exit interviews can make you aware of any ‘problem areas’

It goes without saying that exit interviews also help you to assess why talented individuals may be leaving your organisation. Yet it’s how you use this information what will be key to your on-going recruitment.

Job seekers, in the most part, are not naïve to the fact that every organisation has areas of its employer brand and employee relations that it would like to improve on. What the more discerning job seeker will, however, look for is how that organisation is making changes.

For example, if – from exit interviews – you are aware that employees have left your organisation because they have felt unsupported by managers you can turn this into a positive. By acting upon such feedback, and by putting a strategy in place to overcome the issues, you can be ready to provide examples to candidates of how you are making changes. It shows your organisation does not stand still but instead looks to continually improve when it comes to giving employees a great experience and positive opportunities.

How exit interviews can inform your employer brand

Exit interviews can also reveal aspects of your organisation that you should be promoting to candidates and future employees.

When you’re heavily involved with day-to-day HR it can be difficult to see what employees really appreciate about working within your company. You may make an assumption that it’s perhaps a good salary or the great work-life balance you offer that keeps employees within your organisation. But how do you know that’s the case?

Exit interviews – especially ones that are used company-wide to provide uniform data that you can bulk analyse – can give you information about what employees have most appreciated about working for your organisation.

When you know what ticks the boxes for employees you can do more to promote these to candidates. For example, if they say the office environment is a big plus point, then share this information with candidates – show them your offices or share images on social media.

How exit interviews can help you prepare

Simply put, an exit interview could also make you aware of potentially problematic or damaging scenarios in the near future. A properly managed exit interview will provide you with a ‘heads up’ as to whether an employee may – for example – leave negative comments online or pass negative comments on to their peers.

You have the opportunity to agree on a way to deal with any further negativity to minimise any impact on your employer brand. That may be as simple as monitoring social media and employee review sites for any negative comments and having a suitable response ready to go.

At the heart of it all? Listening to your employees

Ultimately, each of the above points comes down to listening to your employees and engaging with them at every step of their career journey within your organisation.

One of the best ways to improve your recruitment is to create happy employees who will spread the word about your organisation. And to do that you need to make sure your employees are listened to and exit interviews can be a part of that.

About the Author

Anne Corder

Anne Corder


Whilst still actively handling recruitment assignments, Anne specialises in Human Resources with many years of experience in that sector. She blogs on wider recruitment issues affecting both candidates and clients, commenting and offering tips and advice to help achieve the right outcomes.