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Definition

exit interview

An exit interview is a wrap-up meeting between management representatives and someone who is leaving an organization, either voluntarily or through termination. 

Exit interviews are common in business, education and government environments. The purpose of the interview is to gather useful feedback that can help guide future practices and improve recruiting and retention.  

In a corporate environment, exit interviews are usually conducted by human resources (HR) personnel. Alternatively, depending on the size of the company and other factors, interviews may be conducted by management or outsourced to an HR service provider. 

The interview may be conducted in person, over the phone, through chat or email, or in an online survey. In general, interactive methods are considered more useful than surveys because they allow interviewers to respond to the employee and develop follow-up questions that can yield more in-depth information. 

The specific questions asked in an exit interview vary for terminated employees and those leaving voluntarily. For an employee leaving voluntarily, the most important question is "Why?" If they repeatedly hear particular reasons for leaving, the business may be motivated to review practices, pay scales and benefits, among other things. 

Whether an employee quits or is fired, it may be profitable to ask what they liked most about the job and what they liked least. If a number of employees mention problems working with a particular manager, for example, that is an issue that should be explored. When an employee is fired for inadequate performance, it can be useful to ask if they believe business practices or other corporate issues contributed to the problem. 

The exit interview is also an opportunity to provide the employee with information about any benefits and pay yet to be disbursed and any agreements in force between the business and the employee. 

Although exit interviews are often company policy, they should always be voluntary. 

This was last updated in September 2013

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