Exit interviews are all too often an afterthought for employers. Turnover rates are high in the restaurant industry, so when it becomes apparent that an employee is leaving, it’s not uncommon for managers or business owners to disengage and instead direct their resources and attention to other pressing matters.

In reality, exit interviews should be considered just as critical as the interviews conducted during the hiring process. Here’s how to get the most out of employee exit interviews.

The Ideal Exit Interview

One reason why exit interviews are not done consistently is because the value of these meetings is often underestimated. Employers may have received very little constructive feedback during prior exit interviews so they assume that same pattern will be repeated for all of them. One study estimated that approximately two-thirds of employers may simply go through the motions of exit interviews, failing to make any notable changes (changes to policies, workflow, staffing, etc.) based on the input received.

Exit interviews — if conducted properly — hold tremendous value. The ideal exit interview shouldn’t be limited to filling out a simple form or rating sheet. It should be an in-depth conversation with the employee so that you can gain an understanding of the true company culture that they experienced. If their perception and experience deviates widely from the intended culture, the information gathered from the interviews can be used to make improvements and get back on track.

And that’s the other part of the process that two-thirds of employers are missing — the follow-through. If you’re hearing some of the same complaints and suggestions, take action! Don’t let such helpful feedback go to waste.

Before we get to the questions worth asking in an exit interview, let’s talk about confidentiality. Many employees who are moving on to other opportunities wish to leave on a positive note. They typically would like to preserve the relationship, ensuring a favorable reference should they need it in the future. Because of that, employees may sugarcoat or withhold their true feelings, which can undermine the whole exit interview process. So it’s important to be very clear with employees that their responses and feedback will be kept confidential.

Here are some questions you may wish to include during an exit interview:

  • What made you decide to pursue opportunities elsewhere?
  • What was your professional relationship with your leadership team like? And with your coworkers?
  • Did you receive timely and constructive feedback about your performance? How so?
  • Did you have enough training and resources available to properly perform your job duties?
  • What could we have done to improve or extend your time with us?

Don’t Forget About “Stay Interviews”

We also encourage our clients to use “stay interviews” to reduce turnover and boost engagement. Essentially, these are periodic check-ins or casual meetings with employees to see how things are going. As a business owner or manager, the goal is to be proactive and have these discussions beforesomeone resigns or feels compelled to pursue other opportunities. If you can catch issues early on — and more importantly, take steps to appropriately remedy them — then you may just find yourself conducting fewer exit interviews altogether.

Follow Restaurant HR Group on LinkedIn and never miss a post. Or visit us here.