How to Improve Exit Interview Response Rates

February 5, 2020 | By Beth N. Carvin

Part Two of A Two-Part Series

Identifying Logistical Problems in the Exit Interview Process

Transfer employeesLogistical problems are the second major area for review. There are generally weak links in any process and exit interviews are no exception. Your examination should include the whole chain of events that begins when an employee gives notice and ends when the employee submits the exit interview.

It's critical that employees are notified about their exit interview as soon as possible following their notice to terminate. At a minimum, it should be while they are still with the company and not after their last day work. Don't let having home email addresses lull you into waiting to notify employees about their exit interview. For highest participation, employees are notified early. They also know well in advance that it's part of the company culture to ask for and listen to feedback, including an exit interview when they leave. Some companies deliver this message as early as new hire orientation and continue that message throughout the lifecycle of the employee.

To make improvements, start by auditing your existing process. Ask yourself and your team the following questions:

  • How do employees generally give notice of their intent to terminate?
  • Who is the first person notified and how much notice is usually given?
  • Who tells the Human Resource division and how? How soon after notice is given is HR notified? Who in HR is notified first?
  • Who is responsible for initiating the exit interview? When is this person(s) notified of employee terminations?
  • How is the employee notified of the exit interview? By whom? What method? When?
  • Is there clear ownership in Human Resources of the exit interview process? Do those involved in the process understand the importance and urgency of the exit interviews?
  • What is the employee told about the exit interview? In what ways are they encouraged to complete the exit interview? Are employees told more than one time and in more than one way?
  • Is the exit interview easy to complete?
  • When and where will the employee complete the exit interview? Is there easy access to necessary resources?
  • Does the employee have privacy in which to complete the exit interview if they are completing it at work?
  • Are supervisors and managers supportive of the exit interview process? Are they fearful about receiving negative feedback from employees? Are you relying on fearful supervisors to relay information about the exit interview to employees?
  • Is it easy for employees to submit their exit interviews?
Review each of the above audit questions and take a hard look at your process. Determine what you can do to improve on each of these areas.

After you finish your review, you can start to make improvements immediately.


Some of the changes that you make will provide a noticeable improvement in participation rates very quickly. Others will require more time to effectively pervade the company culture.

Re-measure your participation rates at 3-month, 6-month, 9-month and 12-month point. By the 12 month mark you should expect to see a dramatic improvement in your exit interview participation rates. This means more data that can be used to limit turnover and increase employee retention.


You can increase the value of your exit interviews significantly by increasing the number of terminating employees who participate in the exit interview process.

By reviewing and improving both the content and structure of the exit interview along with your own internal processes, you can deliver a substantial increase in your participation rates.

Improve Your Participation Rates - Part 1

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