Key Takeaway

Employees are valuable assets of a company and their leaving can significantly disrupt business continuity and strain customer relations. While there isn’t much the organization can do to stop an outgoing employee, effort is taken to understand the key reasons for employees leaving. Consequently, business and HR teams frequently review and set strategic measures to control this challenge and its downstream impact. 

An exit interview is one of the best ways to get an understanding of an employee’s reason for leaving the organization and their experience of working for the organization. The purpose of this interview is to collate more information and feedback that can help guide future HR and business practices to improve recruitment and retention.

What’s an Exit Interview Checklist?

Most companies today focus on employee exits because they want to gather more data on their employee recruitment and retention. However, HR teams and recruiters also have to ensure that they can create a consistent process that would allow them to send off their employees the right way and through certain verified processes. This creates an outline for the exit process and ensures better actionable insight and reliable data that companies can use to their advantage. 

Benefits of Employee Termination Checklist 

Different companies today focus on effective retention strategies. Regardless, all companies still have to create an employee termination checklist that enables you to get the right insights and data. 

Employee resignation is inevitable, and therefore HR teams and recruiters have to ensure they follow a structured template and process to manage the company’s morale and reputation, reduce turnover, avoid unnecessary lawsuits, treat the employee with more dignity and respect, and get valuable insights and feedback.

Key Elements of Exit Interview Checklist

Employees today can leave for many reasons. This would include reasons like moving on to better job opportunities, pursuing their dream to travel the world, or going back to college. Hence, you must manage exit interviews the right way to help you generate data and information that can help you take the right actions based on the insights gained. 

However, you must create a checklist of all the things that you need for an exit interview the moment an employee exits or puts up a letter of resignation. Having an exit interview template would make things easier for you and help you focus on key elements that you shouldn’t miss. 

#1 Create an Employee Termination File

One of the key elements of the exit interview checklist is that you create all the necessary documents required for employee termination. This is important to ensure that you handle the entire offboarding process the right way. You can start by employee name, job title, the last day at work, and the department they worked in. Apart from this, you may also want to know the reason for termination in the resignation letter and employee number. 

For example, create an employee termination file where you include all the receipts, termination letters, and documents. Also, you need to collect information from respective department heads and find out more about the warnings and behavior-related details to help you prepare for the exit interview. You can also communicate with the IT department about stopping access to an employee’s computer from a specific date.

#2 Choosing an Interviewer

To ensure there is no bias, you would want to pick an interviewer or more people for the exit interview. If you prefer, you can hire a third-party company to conduct exit interviews to ensure employees don’t feel pressure during the interview. The interviewer must have good communication and listening skills to note down the responses.

For example, talk to representatives in the HR department about who will conduct the interview or connect with a third-party interviewer. 

#3 Prepare for the Interview

Every individual is different, and therefore you need to prepare for the exit interview to ask the right questions. Talk to the employee’s department head and find out more about why an employee is leaving, what roles and responsibilities he/she handled, and how well he/she performed in dispensing their duties. Find out more about what they like and dislike, which would help you be prepared for the interview. 

For example, always know the employee you are interviewing to make sure both parties are comfortable. When you have clarity about the employee’s personality and thoughts, you can have better control over how to lead the interview. You may also want to ask the employee to fill in a survey to help you know more and develop the right questions. 

#4 Pick the Right Time for Exit Interview

While you are focusing on the exit interview checklist, you also need to choose the right time for the interview. Some organizations prefer to conduct an exit interview after the employee has left the organization. This provides more space and time for the employee to answer questions during the interview. However, you can interview as and when suitable to the interviewer and the concerned employee.

For example, you can schedule the exit interview with the employee based on whatever is suitable for both parties. 

#5 Listen and Ask the Right Questions

It is better to create a list of questions that you would ask the employee based on the data and details you have. However, during the interview, you also have to listen carefully to what the employee has to say. This gives the impression that you are responsive and you care about the feedback provided by the employee.

For example: Don’t interrupt the employee when he or she is sharing details or grievances. Let them speak freely and assure them that all the things said will stay confidential unless they agree to share the feedback with the management. 

#6 Disabling Property Access and Returning Company Items

HR teams and recruiters also have to ensure that they disable the property access codes. This would include disabling their key cards and keys and returning all the items provided by the organization. 

For example, you would want to ensure that the individual doesn’t have access to all company areas. Create a list of all the items that the employee has to return, including badges, key cards, books, customer lists, uniforms, tools, organization files, and so on. 

#7 Manage Employee Benefits

Write a letter to the leaving employee about their benefits status and vacation and sick leaves, and even COBRA compliance (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) and when you will send the final paycheck.

For example, you need to inform the employee about when the company benefits would expire. Also, inform them about payment related to their paid vacation and sick days. Try to provide them with all the details about the payment of money the company owes and when you will send the final paycheck.

Automating Exit Interview Checklist

If you are planning to use automated programs and systems, you can automate the exit interview checklist. For this, you can look for various exit interview programs that allow you to streamline the process by eliminating paperwork. 

Also, using these programs allow you to conduct interviews online via laptops and mobile phones. Various systems also have exit analytics that would provide you with real-time graphical and tabular detail.


Exit interviews are important, and therefore recruiters and HR teams need to have a checklist to help them get valuable insights and feedback. 

With the right information and data, companies can improve their recruitment and employee retention strategies to reduce the number of terminations. 

Every organization does things differently, and therefore you need to be clear about how you make the checklist in line with your company policies and requirements.

FAQs on Exit Interviews 

Are exit interviews mandatory?

Not all companies conduct exit interviews. Also, many departing employees decide to opt out of exit interviews because they are not comfortable sharing details and experiences. However, exit interviews can help you improve employee recruitment and retention in the future. 

Can an employee decline an exit interview?

Yes, an employee doesn’t need to participate in the exit interview unless there is a clause in the employment contract to provide one while departing. 

Should you share exit interview data with the department of heads and managers?

While some HR teams do, it is not a good idea to share or disclose exit interview details with the department of heads and managers. The purpose of an exit interview is to identify the drivers as to why people are leaving your organization. That said, it is a good strategy to share the attrition details at a high level with department heads with key demographic information to enable corrective actions at a business unit level.

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