Exit Interviews Offer Tremendous Opportunity to Gain Insight


Companies work hard to attract and retain their top executives and best leaders. They understand that losing strong performers exacts high costs in terms of search and replacement costs, lost institutional knowledge, and reduced productivity.

The departure of a key employee, however, also presents an incredible opportunity for organizations to learn about themselves, their personnel policies, operations, hierarchy, and management.

Exit interviews are a perfect method for tapping into the unique perspective departing employees possess before they walk out the door for the last time.


Exit interviews can expose ways to improve human resources policies that may reduce turnover and improve employee relations. To get the most out of exit interviews, craft questions with specific ends in mind:

  • Transferring information that will help the replacement become proficient more quickly. Departing employees – assuming they are leaving voluntarily – usually are happy to provide honest, objective feedback. After all, they have no fear of being disciplined for speaking their minds.
  • Determining policies (compensation, succession, disciplinary, etc.) that led the person to leave. His dissatisfaction may be shared by others. If so, the policies can only benefit in being reexamined.
  • Gaining insight into issues related to the specific position, such as a boss’s management style, workload, morale, or other demands that could be improved in order to make the department more efficient or pleasant. The exit- interview also may uncover gaps in the employee’s training or on-boarding that left him ill-prepared for the position.


Exit interviews help organizations collect information and focus on improvement of all its endeavors, including culture, operations, management, customer service, value chain management, public relations, and human resources. They also send a powerful message to remaining employees that the company is serious about nurturing them, improving their working conditions, and helping them succeed.

Finally, they can provide immediate benefits in filling the recently vacated position and also in providing the new replacement employee with additional tools to set them up for success, if management is cognizant of the biggest challenges his predecessor faced. Having management become aware of potential barriers to success is the most important step in improving conditions and removing as many perceived negatives as possible.

Ann Zaslow- Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants, a leader in Executive Search since 1999. Please CONTACT ISC  for any recruitment needs in the following  4 areas of focus: Sales, Financial Services,  Human Resources, & Construction / Real Estate Acquisition & Development.

You can reach the author directly at or via phone at 888-866-7276.