Are Exit Interviews a Waste of Time?
An article on Ask The Headhunter website by Nick Corcodilos condemns the practice of
conducting exit interviews on the basis of
A) the info could be used against the employee later and B) there's
no point in asking the employee when they are leaving as it is too
late to make things right for that employee. I disagree with the
My response to the author is as follows:
It is clear that the author is a headhunter and has not
worked the other side of the fence in HR. From the recruiter's
perspective, once the employee gives
their notice, the less communication with the boss the better. The
recruiter lives in fear of counter offers and every recruiter suffers
through "fall-outs" when the candidate feels guilty or nostalgic or
afraid and decides that, "gee, whiz, they'll stay with their company
after all...." HR on the other hand has a
genuine need for feedback on what the company is doing right and
where they need to improve. Getting the feedback via employee
surveys is difficult as employees are loathe to provide constructive
criticism of a current employer. (who would feel otherwise?).
Exiting employees offer the most valuable source of honest opinions
and when tracked over time, can provide trends of both problem and
success areas within a company. That is why 9 out of 10 employers
reported in a recent SHRM survey that they conduct exit interviews.
As those in HR know, the information is not used as Nick suggests to
have something against the employee in court or to give the employee
a lousy reference later. SHRM's point about exit interviews helping
a company avoid costly legal action refers to the opportunity that
exit interviews provide to determine areas of the company that may
require investigation for treating employees unfairly or illegally.
How can one investigate and or fix a problem if they don't know it
exists? The information is used to make the company a better
workplace. Additionally, most departing employees appreciate the
opportunity to let the management know where problems exist. Even if
an employee is leaving, they still have a lot emotionally invested
in the prior company. Being able to provide feedback is a way the
employee can feel like they are making a final contribution or
getting certain issues off their chest. These days, new technology
such as email and internet allows companies to make their exit
interview process more efficient and effective than ever before. A
web based exit interview system, such as Nobscot's WebExit, can provide a self-service method
for employees to provide feedback while the software automatically
compiles, tracks and analyzes the results.
So, get with the program, Nick. Exit interviews
are not a threat to recruiters. They are an effective way for an
employee to transition from one company to another and provide
constructive feedback in the process.
© Copyright B. Carvin, 2000. Reprint with permission, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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