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Exit interviews

Exit interviews are structured discussions held with employees before, or shortly after, they leave the organisation. The process, which may also be undertaken as a paper-based or online survey, enables employees to debrief and provide feedback to the agency on their working experience with the organisation. The information and insight provides agencies with the opportunity to assess strengths and areas for improvement across the organisation, and to target workforce management strategies to improve talent attraction, retention and performance.

Following are key principles for exit interviews or surveys:

  • Goal/objective of exit interviews is clearly explained to exiting employees
  • Participation in the process is voluntary but strongly encouraged
  • Plan for capturing and analysing data is developed, which outlines how information will be collected, analysed and used (e.g. collated into a report for the agency’s executive, and/or shared with employees). This ensures results are used properly and effectively, and prevents any breach of confidentiality
  • Confidentiality provisions are clearly outlined in the agency’s exit interview policy, including how the information will be collected, stored and used
  • Standard questions are asked of all exiting employees to identify and compare trends across the organisation, or in workforce segments
  • Delivery is objective and unbiased with interviews undertaken by an experienced person in-house or an external provider face-to-face or over the phone, or as a paper-based or online survey
  • Timing for interviews and surveys may vary, but are commonly held soon after an employee submits their resignation/ notice, a few days before the employee’s last day, or shortly after an employee leaves
  • Plan of action is in place for the organisation to take action to improve organisational systems, processes and strategies; or to address potential workplace issues and/or claims raised.

Refer to the Guide to developing exit interviews below for planning and managing exit interview programs.

More information

  • Given the diversity of Government sector workplaces, individual agencies are best placed to design, develop and implement an exit interview program that suits their agency’s operational and employment conditions. The purpose of this guide is to support agencies to do this according to best practice from within and outside the public sector.

See also