The Pros and Cons of Conducting Exit Interviews

The Pros and Cons of Conducting Exit Interviews

Companies of all sizes can benefit from conducting exit interviews. Losing employees is often inevitable, but it’s also an opportunity for business owners, directors, and managers to receive constructive feedback on the company, its processes, and its culture.

In this article, company formation agent, 1st Formations, explores whether exit interviews are worth conducting. They will explain their purpose and their pros and cons. Finally, they will suggest some ways in which businesses can approach exit interviews, including the types of questions to ask and methods to use.

The purpose of exit interviews

When an employee leaves, many companies offer exit interviews to understand the worker’s experience with the business. They normally focus on how the employee feels they were treated (for example, whether adequate training was offered or whether they felt valued), giving and receiving constructive feedback, and ultimately, discussing their reason for leaving.

Exit interviews are an optional process for both the company and the employee, but they can give you a fresh perspective on your company, how it operates, and what’s working and what isn’t.

Overall, the main purpose of exit interviews is to find out why a staff member is leaving and to learn about the areas of the business that could be improved. They can be particularly useful if you are experiencing high staff turnover, low productivity, or low employee satisfaction.

Advantages of conducting exit interviews

Exit interviews can be extremely insightful for companies and useful for departing employees. Here are some of the top potential benefits:

Gain a fresh perspective

When an employee leaves your company, it is a unique opportunity to gain valuable and honest insights into your team culture and satisfaction.

Normally, your staff may not feel comfortable bringing up any issues they may have with their line managers, but when they leave, they have a chance to be honest and constructive. This can help draw your attention to business areas that may have been overlooked and gain a fresh, innovative perspective on how to improve them.

Provide competitor/industry insights

Typically, departing team members have interviewed with or accepted a new job with another company – often a competitor. By conducting an exit interview, you can learn how your company culture and employee benefits compare to others in your sector and make it a more attractive place to work.

Nowadays, people look for certain perks from their employers. A BHN Extras report on workplace benefits found the following top 5 perks employees would find most beneficial:

  1. Groceries (e.g. supermarket vouchers or cashback cards)
  2. Travel to work by car (e.g. ample on-site parking)
  3. Technology (e.g. retailer discounts)
  4. Childcare (e.g. flexible working policies to accommodate childcare needs)
  5. Gym membership (discounted gym access)

However, the study also found a significant disconnection between what employees want and what’s currently on offer:

  1. Gym memberships
  2. Cost of a bike (cycle to work scheme)
  3. Childcare costs
  4. Eating out (food outlet offers)
  5. Groceries

Only 2 out of 5 items on the above lists match, and even so, their order of priority differs considerably.

It may be assumed that workers simply want a raise or a bonus at the end of the year, but the world of work has changed drastically in the last few years following the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis. Now, people expect more than just a salary boost.

But what else can business do? One way to find out how to improve your team’s satisfaction is to conduct exit interviews and ensure that your benefits package is competitive.

Identify good and bad managers

If you have larger teams that are managed by individual senior members, it can be easy for you, as the business owner, to lose sight of whether those teams are managed well. But you can stay on top of things and identify good and bad management styles by conducting exit interviews.

Managers are the glue of their team, and their leadership styles reflect people’s productivity, motivation, job satisfaction, and future career plans. However, a study by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) revealed that 82% of new UK managers are unqualified and have merely stumbled into their roles.

Consequently, 1 in 3 people leave their jobs due to unsatisfactory bosses and toxic work culture. Furthermore, half of those who are unsatisfied with their managers said they plan to leave within the next year.

Equally, exit interviews can also let you know which managers are doing well. With this being such a sizeable issue in UK organisations, conducting exit interviews with the right questions can be a helpful way of reviewing the effectiveness of your senior staff, identifying ways to implement changes, and retaining future employees.

Give a good impression of your company

Not every company conducts exit interviews, but those that do could be leaving a considerably better impression of their business on ex-employees. Taking the time to do an exit interview shows people that you care about their experience and that you value their feedback. It also shows that you are receptive and open-minded.

While the employee is leaving, doing an exit interview can still be extremely helpful in ending on good terms, maintaining relationships, and painting a positive picture of your company.

Potential cons of exit interviews

There are also some possible disadvantages of doing exit interviews, such as:

Difficult conversations

While starting a discussion is useful in many ways, you could also be running the risk of hearing something you don’t want to hear. If the staff member has had a particularly negative experience, for example, it could create an uncomfortable atmosphere and a sour departure.

While such situations can’t always be completely mitigated, there are some practical ways to navigate them. For instance, exit interviews should be conducted by a qualified HR representative as opposed to you, the company owner.

An impartial member of staff who is trained in handling exit interviews should be open to all types of feedback and knowledgeable in recording it appropriately.

Employees might be dishonest

There is no way to know whether someone’s answers are truthful. If an employee is dishonest in their exit interview, it would provide you with misleading information (potentially causing unnecessary business changes), waste time, and create confusion and inaccuracies between their answers and those of others.

Difficult to capture feedback

If your company doesn’t have a thorough exit interview process in place, it can be difficult to conduct them efficiently and capture the right type of feedback.

A lack of structure will also make it tricky to identify trends between departing employees and form a constructive course of action for improvement. This applies to both the questions that are asked and how they are recorded and organised by the responsible parties. Ultimately, an inconsistent process renders the exit interview useless and ineffective.

Questions to ask in an exit interview

It’s essential to construct the right interview questions that are relevant and useful to your company. Here are some general suggestions to get you started:

  1. What is your main reason for leaving?
  2. Do you feel that you were appropriately supported in your role?
  3. Do you think your job has changed since you joined the company?
  4. How would you describe the company culture?
  5. What suggestions would you make for improving our processes, policies, or procedures?
  6. What do you think are the company’s strengths?
  7. Is there anything that we could have done to retain you?
  8. Do you feel that your contribution to the company was sufficiently valued?
  9. Would you say you received adequate training in your role and were presented with suitable progression opportunities?
  10. Would you recommend our company as a place to work to a friend?

You could also vary the question structure by asking some direct questions like the above, but also including multiple-choice questions. For instance, ‘on a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied were you with […]?’

Exit interview methods

There are different methods to consider when planning your exit interview process. Think about what’s important to your company, your available resources, and the most efficient way for you to carry it out. Here are some of the most common methods:

  • Face-to-face: The most traditional way to conduct an exit interview. However, since Covid-19, many companies have flexible or remote working policies, so it’s not always easy to arrange in-person meetings. A common alternative is a virtual interview.
  • Telephone: Conducting an exit interview over the phone is also common. It’s also a convenient solution if you’re struggling to find a suitable time for both parties to be available.

If you opt for this interview method, it’s important to make sure that the interviewer is well-prepared and records answers correctly.

  • Surveys: This is less common in the UK but a practical and speedy option to consider. It can also be a convenient way to conduct the exit interview if the interviewer and employee are unable to find the time for either an in-person or telephone meeting.

Also, digital surveys ensure that responses are recorded exactly as the employee answers them, and they are easier for companies to organise and manage.

  • Third-party interviews: If you don’t have many employees or a qualified staff member to conduct exit interviews, you could opt for a third-party representative to carry them out on your behalf. This can save you a lot of time if you don’t yet have the right resources to manage interviews in-house.


If your company doesn’t conduct exit interviews, they are worth considering. Thorough exit interviews can give your company the insights it needs into its functionality, processes, and team culture, helping you identify useful improvement areas to retain high-quality staff and make it an attractive place to work.

1st Formations is a leading company formation agent in the UK. Their team guides worldwide businesses through their start-up and post-incorporation processes with a range of affordable packages to suit their needs and budgets. To find out more about them and their services, visit the 1st Formations website.

About author

Carl Herman is an editor at DataFileHost enjoys writing about the latest Tech trends around the globe.