Exit Interview — CEO Shoptalk

Exit interview, y’all?

Hello, dear readers. It is 66F here in Austin By God Texas. It is clear, crisp, and lovely. It is sweater weather.

So, the last couple of posts we have discussed how to fire and layoff employees.

When you part company with an employee, a useful exercise is conducting an exit interview. An exit interview may provide a soon-to-be-former employee an opportunity to harness their candor and tell you some things they might not if they were dependent upon you for their next paycheck.

The question is how to conduct the exit interview?

Exit interview – who conducts it, Big Red Car?

An exit interview should be conducted by the CEO (if possible) or an HR person.

It should not be conducted by the departing employee’s manager. Tell me why, dear reader.

Exit interview – where, how long?

The exit interview should be conducted in a place which will encourage candor, intimacy, and truth. Sounds like Texas BBQ to me, y’all.

I like conducting an exit interview off site because when the bill comes, I can get up, pay the bill, and leave. In the office, it may require calling the Sheriff to end the exit interview.

It should take an hour or less.

Exit interview – what do I ask them, Big Red Car?

Ahhh, dear reader, the Big Red Car has that figured out for you. Here is a list of questions to explore with your soon-to-be-departed interviewee. Click on the link below.

Exit Interview Questions

Look at the list. There are thirty-seven questions listed.

Use the ones you think fit. Sometimes, I have used every single one of them. Sometimes, I realized the exit interview was a worthless exercise and punted, but I always ate some BBQ.

Exit interview – now what, Big Red Car?

Once you have conducted the interview and have your notes organized (typed up, maybe), compare what you have learned to your last Anonymous Company Survey [If you need an exemplar for an Anonymous Company Survey, search this website or ping me. I’ll send you one.] Does it match? If not, how does it not?

If you approach the exit interview as a learning exercise, the correct point of view, you may learn something you didn’t know. CEOs are constantly finding out stuff they didn’t know they didn’t know.

All CEOs know what they know.
Some CEOs know what they don’t know.
All CEOs don’t know what they don’t know.

The above little ditty captures all the information and knowledge in the world of a CEO.

Sleep on it an decide who you are going to share the info with. The candidates are: the C suite, managers, the former employee’s manager, and HR. Do not send it to the New York Times.

Take a deep breath and decide if you need to take action. Only you can decide that.

I can tell you that in 33+ years of CEOing, I only once took action based on an exit interview. The departee complained of not having adequate direction which resulted in my having every Basis of Employment/Job Description in the company reviewed. Turned out to be a worthy exercise, but essentially a false alarm.

I have worked with people who have uncovered gargantuan problems — embezzlement, sexual harassment, theft, drug/drinking problems, and a complete disconnect between the agreed sales cycle and what was actually happening.

When you ask someone questions like:

#26. If you could change one thing about the company right now, what would it be?
#32. Were you ever the victim, exposed to, or observe any form of discrimination? Did you report it? If not, why not?
#37. What else do you think we need to know that would be helpful to the company?

you will get some interesting answers.

One bit of advice — you are dealing with responses of first impression. That is one of the reasons why the exit interview should only take an hour or less. Do not go looking for problems where they do not exist or give an interviewee an invitation to create some. First impression.

So, dear reader, there you have it. The Exit Interview complete with a new exemplar, Exit Interview Questions. But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be good to the planet, it’s the only one we’ve got.






2 thoughts on “Exit Interview — CEO Shoptalk

  1. DAMN good questions. I’ve never had a job where I could have given management favorable answers on even 10% of those questions. I’ve never had an exit interview! A company that can get answers both honest and good to all those questions should have one heck of a big advantage.

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